It has been three years since I took office. Over these past three
years, I have administered state affairs with the aspirations of the
candlelight protesters in my heart. I’ve walked on the path toward
fairness and justice, innovation and inclusiveness, and peace and
prosperity. Every single day, I have felt like I am walking on thin
ice. There have been many difficult moments, but whenever these have
come, people have inspired and encouraged me. I am profoundly grateful
to the people for sending unwavering support.
remaining two years, I will work on state affairs with even firmer
determination. Until the moment I complete my term, I will, with a
strong sense of responsibility, do everything possible to fulfill the
duty that the people and history have entrusted to me.
We are now standing at the center of
rapid global changes. An invisible virus is transforming the world in
its entirety. It is fundamentally changing our daily lives and pushing
the world economy into an unprecedented crisis. It is also bringing
about enormous changes not only in the socioeconomic structures of
nations but also in the international order.
avoid these changes, even
though we want to. There is no option but to tackle them head on and
break through. There is a saying, “Heaven never helps the men who will
not act.” We will overcome crises with extraordinary commitment and
Taking it a step further, we will turn crises
into opportunities. Opportunities go to the ones who seek them and the
ones who take on challenges. We will join the people to wisely find
our way and boldly face challenges. We will take the current crisis as
a driving force for new opportunities and development. Our goal goes
beyond “a global Republic of Korea.” Our goal is “a Republic of Korea
that takes the lead in the world.” That is the new Republic of Korea
to which we’ve aspired.
We have already become a country leading the
world in epidemic prevention and control. Korea’s COVID-19 response
has become a global standard. The national status of the Republic of
Korea and the people’s pride are higher than ever. All of this has
been driven by the dedication of quarantine authorities and medical
professionals, the willing participation of countless volunteers and
the people who have demonstrated to the fullest a spirit of solidarity
We have firmly defended the frontlines
of the quarantine based on the strength of our people and have been
winning the war against the virus. With our COVID-19 situation
entering the stabilization phase, we have now transitioned to a new
normal in which safety precautions against the virus and daily lives
can be simultaneously maintained.
However, it doesn’t
mean that we are back to the time before the COVID-19 outbreak. The
infection cluster which recently occurred in entertainment facilities
has raised awareness that, even during the stabilization phase,
similar situations can arise again anytime, anywhere in an enclosed,
crowded space. It’s not over until it’s over. While keeping enhanced
alertness till the end, we
must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention.
Nevertheless, there's no reason to stand still out of fear. If we do
not let our guard down, our epidemic prevention and quarantine system
can fully control and manage the spread of the virus. We have the
right quarantine and medical systems combined with experience to
respond quickly to any unexpected infection clusters that might
It will be a long time before the COVID-19
outbreak has ended completely. We should also brace for the pandemic’s
second wave, which many experts are predicting. However, we cannot
afford to keep waiting until then to return to normal daily lives.
Although combating the virus is the starting point for economic
recovery, it will not be nearly enough to resolve the issues
surrounding people’s livelihoods.
The Government will
meticulously handle the COVID-19 situation, keeping in mind that we
are in a prolonged war. I ask everyone to comply with safety
precautions and rules until the situation is over even after resuming
daily lives. I hope all of us will join together to succeed in meeting
this new challenge of maintaining virus safety precautions amid our
daily routines. If our people exert their full capabilities once more,
I am convinced that our transition to normal daily lives will also
become a model for the world to emulate.
We have already reaffirmed that our epidemic
prevention and healthcare systems are among the best in the world.
This is the result of having developed response systems that draw on
our experiences from the SARS and MERS outbreaks. We will reinforce
our epidemic prevention and quarantine systems further to become the
undisputed “No.1” epidemic response country leading the world.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be upgraded
to the Disease Control and Prevention Administration to strengthen its
expertise and independence. It will be staffed with more
professionals, and a local epidemic response system will be
established to make up for any insufficient provincial capabilities.
With the National Assembly’s approval, we will establish a system for
two vice ministers within the Ministry of Health and Welfare. We will
also push to establish hospitals specialized in treating infectious
diseases and a national infectious disease research center. In
addition, we will significantly enhance our public healthcare system
and ability to respond to infectious diseases to build a safer
Republic of Korea. These tasks are very urgent if we are to prepare
for the second epidemic wave that experts predict will hit this fall
or winter. I ask for the National Assembly’s swift cooperation.
It is the economy that matters.
This current economic crisis is being compared to the Great Depression
100 years ago.
The world economy has ground to a halt.
Factories have stopped producing, and the number of jobless people is
rapidly increasing. As borders are closed and exchanges are blocked,
global supply chains are disintegrating and trade is declining sharply
worldwide. Countries are facing the worst negative growth rates since
the Great Depression. We are in a situation with no bottom and no end
The damage to our economy is indeed colossal
as well. As exports plunged in April, our trade recorded a deficit for
the first time in 99 months. The service industry contraction, which
began in tourism and travel and dining and lodging, is expanding into
a manufacturing industry crisis.
As even our key
industries and flagship businesses, which have remained relatively
strong, are facing increasing difficulties, more and more of these
businesses are urgently requesting financial support. The employment
shock is also growing as time passes. Unemployment fears are spreading
beyond self-employed small business owners, non-permanent workers and
day laborers to affect almost all employees, including full-time
employees and those at mid-market companies and large businesses. This
is undeniably an “economic wartime situation.”
to give my deepest consolation to the people who are enduring this
difficult situation. The Government will concentrate all of its
capabilities on overcoming the economic crisis. We will take the hands
of those on the edge of a precipice. We will serve as a buttress
safeguarding the lives and jobs of the people. As an unconventional
and expedited emergency prescription, the Government has injected 245
trillion won – more than 10 percent of the nation’s GDP – into support
for businesses and employment measures. The Government is now
preparing the third supplementary budget following the first and
second. We will resolutely brace for any bigger shocks ahead. The
Government will utilize all available resources and policies.
We will use our relatively rapid stabilization of the COVID-19
outbreak and the transition to a new normal as a turning point for
enhancing economic vitality. We will move up the timetable for
boosting consumption and recovering tourism as well as redouble our
efforts to promote investment. We will provide enhanced support to
help the manufacturing industry regain vitality and promptly implement
measures to shore up contracted local economies.
the people, as the principal economic players, will also actively
engage in consumption and economic activities while complying with
epidemic prevention guidelines and rules. Like our efforts to combat
the virus, overcoming the economic crisis can be successful if the
people pull together. I believe in our people who have in their DNA
the ability to overcome a crisis. The Government, along with the
people, will also set an example for the world with how we overcome
this economic crisis.
post-COVID-19 global economic order is by no means a rosy picture. We
have vividly witnessed how fragile the international community’s
solidarity and cooperation is in the face of this virus.
The reality is grave, indeed. Nationalism driven by the pursuit of one
country’s own survival may expand further. The division of labor in
the era of globalization, which has been driving economic development
worldwide to date, is under threat. It is also a very serious
challenge to our economy, which has grown through openness and
If we fail to turn this crisis into an
opportunity, we cannot survive. It’s a desperate time; we must prepare
for the future in a preemptive manner.
For the remainder of my term in office, I will
do my best to turn crises into opportunities while fully devoting
myself to overcoming this national crisis along with the people. I
will strive to pave the way for the Republic of Korea to take the lead
First, we will blaze a trail in the
post-COVID-19 era with a pace-setting economy. Our country has
excellent infrastructure and is ranked “No.1” worldwide for
competitive edge in the ICT sector. Our competitiveness and potential
in the bio industry have been reaffirmed. We have strengths in
post-COVID-19-related industries such as non-face-to-face medical
services, online education and transactions, epidemic prevention and
the bio industry. We have ample capabilities to lead the digital
economy by combining Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as
artificial intelligence and big data.
We will work to
help the Republic of Korea emerge as a globally leading “digital
powerhouse” with innovative business ventures and startups serving as
the main driving force. We will create future growth engines by
fostering three new growth industries – system semiconductors,
biohealth and future cars – more vigorously.
of Korea has become the safest and most transparent production base in
the world. Countries around the world have now begun to prefer
innovative capabilities and safe investment destinations to cheap
labor. This presents a golden opportunity for us. We will push ahead
with bold strategies to attract high-tech industries and investments
from overseas as well as to help Korean companies return from abroad.
The Republic of Korea will become a “world factory of high-tech
industries,” thereby changing the global industrial map.
Second, we will further improve our employment safety net by
significantly expanding the application of employment insurance and
implementing an employment support program. We will keep the lives of
all our people safe from unemployment and threats to their
In history, human beings have expanded
welfare and strengthened safety nets in times of crisis. The United
States laid the foundation for its social security system while going
through the Great Depression, and our country introduced a national
basic living security system earlier than planned while striving to
overcome the 1997 foreign exchange crisis. The current COVID-19 crisis
calls for further strengthening our still-vulnerable employment safety
The Government will establish the cornerstone for
an era of universal employment insurance which will benefit everyone
employed. We will push to allow low-wage, non-permanent workers who
are presently not covered to sign up for the insurance as soon as
possible. We will work to quickly bring employment insurance to those
currently not-covered – the self-employed contract workers, platform
workers, freelancers and artists, among others. Through a social
agreement, we will also gradually expand the eligibility for the
insurance to cover all of the self-employed.
the employment safety net is an essential task to bolster our
economy’s dynamism as well. The laws and system will be overhauled to
broaden the range of eligible employment insurance subscribers step by
step. The National Assembly’s understanding and cooperation are very
important. I ask the Assembly to support this through
Moreover, the employment support program –
a Korean-style unemployment allowance – will be implemented as quickly
as possible. The program will provide job training and other
customized employment support to low-income households, young adults
and self-employed small business owners and offer jobseekers stipends
to facilitate employment and other types of income. If employment
insurance is the primary employment safety net, the employment support
program is a secondary one. It is an essential employment safety net
for jobseekers and those who have been unemployed for a long time. A
legislative bill has already been submitted to the National Assembly
following an agreement at the Economic, Social and Labor Council. I
urge the National Assembly to pass it as soon as possible.
Third, we will push ahead with a Korean version of the New Deal
as a national project to create jobs. The Government will present new
opportunities for the people by creating new jobs.
Korean version of the New Deal is a preemptive investment for the
future, designed to establish digital infrastructure. The early
establishment of 5G infrastructure and the building of infrastructure
to collect, accumulate and use data will be pursued as national
projects. Non-face-to-face industries related to medical services,
education and retail distribution will be intensively fostered. The
large-scale job creation project will be actively pursued: Cities and
industrial complexes, roads and transportation networks, and aging
national infrastructure will be combined with artificial intelligence
and digital technology in order to make them smart. We will harmonize
the process to fully uphold the important value of not only protecting
personal information but also securing a public service role for
medical services and education.
The Government will
expand public investment and strengthen private sector cooperation to
create new jobs. In addition to overcoming the crisis, we will put in
place a foothold to help our economy transition into that of a
pace-setter. We will actively generate new quality jobs through bold
and creative planning and fast and decisive implementation.
Fourth, we will lead an international order of solidarity and
cooperation that prioritizes people’s lives and safety. The creative
methods and principles of openness, transparency and democracy that we
have shown in our efforts to combat the virus have become a
world-class success model. Our society has created this together as a
whole. Actions like volunteering and donating combined with the spirit
of solidarity and cooperation have established the Republic of Korea’s
national status and become a source of international
A favorable assessment by the international
community has significantly expanded Korea’s diplomatic horizon. Our
country now stands at the center of international cooperation, and the
Republic of Korea’s status on multilateral stages such as G20 and
ASEAN Plus Three has risen beyond recognition.
make the most of this opportunity. Building upon successful epidemic
prevention efforts, we will lead international cooperation in the
post-COVID-19 era while placing “human security” at the center. The
concept of security today has expanded from conventional military
security to human security that deals with all factors threatening
safety such as disasters, diseases and environmental issues. We can
cope with these only when all countries pull together through
solidarity and cooperation. We will play a leading role so that
Northeast Asia, ASEAN and the rest of the world can move forward
toward the common goal of human security through solidarity and
cooperation. I hope that South and North Korea will move toward a
single community of life and a peace community by cooperating on human
have begun to rediscover the Republic of Korea while fighting an
arduous war against a virus. We’ve started saying that we are already
an advanced country. Countries that we wanted to follow have started
learning from us. We have set a standard and become a world-class
nation. People have now begun to talk about the Republic of Korea’s
It is a greatness that the people themselves
have created. We have made concessions, showed consideration, banded
together and cooperated. We have become stronger in this time of
crisis. The people have been great. I am very proud of all of our
The crisis is not over yet, and an even bigger
challenge remains. The Government will have an even more tremendous
sense of responsibility. We will become the nation that surmounts this
crisis the fastest. We will become an example and a leader for the
world. We will stand tall in the world as a new Republic of Korea.
Throughout the remainder of my term, I will move forward fearlessly
together with our great people.