REFORM TOWARD A NEW KOREA
The Basic Goals and Reform Process of the Kim Young Sam Administration
What are the vision and goals of the Administration of Kim Young Sam, inaugurated on February 25, 1993. In a nutshell, the answer is the “creation of a New Korea” through “Reform Admist Stability.” This concept was the keynote of the Presidents inaugural address as well as the main slogan of his presidential election campaign in December 1992.
“I have a dream. It is the creation of a New Korea in which a new politics, a new economy and a new culture will bloom. This is my dream and vision; it is the dream and vision of all our people.” This quotation appears in the book, “Kim Young Sam: New Korea 2000,” published in Korea in October 1992 prior to the presidential election.
In his inaugural speech on February 25, 1993, President Kim Young Sam defined the three major priorities of his policies to create a New Korea: the eradication of social injustice and corruption, the revitalization of the national economy and the establishment of official discipline and public order.
The President declared that the eradication of corruption was a vital foundation for reforms in every sector of the country, and that there would be no sanctuary from the investigation of misconduct. The movement to establish official discipline and public order, which began with high-ranking government officials, is intended to ensure integrity and high ethical standards by “purifying the upper reaches of the stream,” i.e., the upper levels of government and society.
The main purpose of these reforms is to revitalize the nation and elevate the overall standard of living. President Kim Young Sam has thus pushed ahead with firm determination since his inauguration, bringing about enormous changes in this country.
From the very start of his Administration, President Kim Young Sam concentrated on eliminating corrupt practices and behavior which arose from decades of authoritarian rule. This kind of housecleaning was unhead of in the past. President Kim believes, and popular opinion supports him on this, that such reform must be carried on without letting up in the interest of the long-term stability and economic development of Korea.
The Concept of a New Korea
The creation of a New Korea means the building of unified, fully mature democratic state. To that end, drastic changes and reforms are being pursued to raise the quality of life for all those who were sacrificed in the blind quest for rapid growth over the past 30-odd years.
What will the future New Korea be like? Koreas first non-military President since 1961, President Kim in his inaugural address said the New Korea will be:
A freer and more mature democratic society.
A community where people share, work and live together in harmony. A higher quality of life will flourish and the dignity of the individual will be upheld.
A state where justice flows like a river throughout the land. In other words, it will be a just society in which honest and earnest individuals live well.
A new country in which human dignity is respected and culture is valued.
A unified land where the presently divided people live in peace as one.
And, it will stand tall and proud on the center stage of the civilized world, making vital contributions to global peace and progress.
Curing the Korean Disease
The problems which are widespread in Korea today are often referred to as the Korean disease: (1) Korean industriousness and ingenuity - long the envy of the world - seem to be evaporating, (2) values continue to erode, due to injustice, corruption, lethargy, bigotry, inertia, strife and confrontation, and narrow self-interests, and (3) self-confidence has been lost and defeatism has set in.
To create a New Korea, the new Administration has been vigorously addressing these symptoms through drastic change and reform. The President outlined the goals of these changes and reforms in his inaugural address: (1) the establishment of a new era of courage and hope by shaking off frustration and lethargy, (2) the replacement of bigotry and inertia with openmindedness and vitality, strife and confrontation with dialogue and cooperation, mistrust with trust, and (3) the building of a society which sees all citizens not only living together but also truly carring about one another, discarding narrow self-interests.
The President outlined three essential tasks in his inaugural address.
First, misconduct and corruption must be rooted out. He defined misconduct and corruption as the most terrifying enemies attacking the foundation of society, and called for an end to all manner of impropriety and graft, allowing no sanctuary. He called for immediate reform starting from the very top.
Second, the economy must be revitalized. He vowed that the new Administration would do away with unwarranted controls and protection and instead guarantee self-regulation and fair competition. “Private initiative and creativity will thus be allowed to flourish”. He went on to say. “The Administration will be the first to tighten uts belt. Our citizens must also conserve more and save more. Extravagance and wastefulness must be eliminated... Only when the Government and the people, and labor and business work together with enthusiasm will it be possible to turn our economy around...”
Third, national discipline must be enhanced. “Respect for authority must be reestablished... Freedom must serve society... The true meaning of freedom is in using it to plant a flower in the park rather than picking a flower from the park.” The President also said, “Ethics... must be made to prevail. To this end, education must henceforth cultivate wholesome character and unwavering democratic belief, as well as equip our young people for the future with knowledge and skill in science and technology...”
Four majot Goals of the New Administration
The four major goals of the Administration are clean government, a sound economy, a healthy society and peaceful unification.
Clean government means a government free of corruption and injustice. There is a saying that the lower reaches of a river will be clean only when the upper reaches are kept clean. The President is determined to keep the upper reaches of the stream clean, and all the Cabinet members and high-ranking public officials will join in this effort so that the public will have confidence in the Government.
The campaign to keep the upper reaches of the stream clean means reforms from the top. The new Government has required high-ranking public officials to register and make public their personal assets to discourage the illegal accumulation of wealth under the Public Officials Ethics Law. The President himself has made public his own assets and has said that he would not accept political contributions.
A sound economy means a New Economy free of unwarranted controls and protection - an economy which guarantees self-regulation and fair competition and encourages the private initiative and creativity necessary for economic revitalization. The economy has been marked by quantitative growth in the past three decades; now it needs qualitative development. In order to develop New Economy, Korea must (1) establish a liberal market system, (2) liberalize financing, (3) decentralize economic power and (4) promote economic reforms.
The New Economy emphasizes concentrated efforts for the renovation of science and technology. In the 21st century, the strength of nations will be measured by the development of science and technology. It is for this reason the new Administration is sharply raising research and development expenditures.
President Kim Young Sam announced on August 12, 1993, implementation of real-name system for all financial transactions to assist in the realization of economic justice and clean government. The new Administration also has a firm position to control speculation in real estate and institute tax reforms.
By effecting all these changes, it is predicted that the inflation rate as measured by the consumer price index will fall to the 3-4 percent range by the end of 1994 from the usual past level of nearly 6 percent, while the balance on current account will shift into the black. The economy as a whole should grow at an average annual rate of 6.9 percent, boosting per capita GNP to US$14,076 in 1998 from US$7,466 in 1993.
A healthy society means a society in which all people work hard and receive just rewards. It is obvious that a clean government and sound economy alone cannot create a New Korea. A healthy society is absolutely required as well. Everyone must spontaneously take responsibility for keeping society healthy. Each and every person must be honest, courageous and dignified.
Peaceful unification is the supreme task for Koreans. the Republics Korean national Community Unification Formula envisages a Korean Commonwealth, an interim arrangement designed to build political, economic and military trust and restore national homogeneity, leading to full national integration through free general elections throughout the Korean Peninsula. President Kim will consistently pursue this unification formula, widely regarded as being very realistic. He will, however, flexibly adapt it to changes in the international situation. In a Liberation Day speech on August 15, 1994, he thus prpoposed South-North joint projects for national development, including light-water nuclear reactor construction in the North, once the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved.
Reform backed by the Korean people
The Korean peoples deep support of President Kims comprehensive reform agenda