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Korea is moving to the core

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Jan 02,2010
The year 2010 is special for Korea, whose history is replete with despair and glory. For Koreans, this is the 100th year since the loss of our independence to Japan, the 60th since the end of the devastating Korean War, the 50th since the April 19 democratic revolution, the 40th since the opening of the Gyeongbu Expressway - the symbol of industrialization, the 30th since the Gwangju student democratic movement, the 20th since the building of diplomatic ties with socialist countries, and finally, the 10th since the first inter-Korean summit.

But we can’t afford to keep looking back. In 2010, Koreans must embark on a new journey. For a long time, Korea was on the periphery of the world. Korea was a recipient of international aid. But now we’re moving toward the center of the world stage.

Korea is the first nation to transform itself from a beneficiary to a donor. A country that once was poorer than some African nations is now a host of the G-20 summit. In November, 20 heads of state plus their senior government officials and business figures will descend on Seoul to discuss the economic crisis, exit strategies from economic stimulus measures and the post-crisis world.

The journey from the periphery to the core is one full of challenges. To stand at the center, we must build infrastructure for an advanced mentality. Everyone, from the president to the public, should work together to build a robust pyramid.

At the peak of the pyramid, President Lee Myung-bak is, fortunately, reinvigorated. He is a leader who works with energy and perseverance.

He stuck to principles during strikes by Ssangyong Motor and rail workers. He is dealing with North Korea the same way. Despite heavy demands on his time, Lee won the right to host the G-20 summit and to build nuclear power plants worth $40 billion. But in terms of communication and unity, Lee is still lacking.

If he had embraced the minority and communicated more with the opposition parties and the public, the four-river restoration and Sejong City projects wouldn’t have become so problematic. The ruling party can’t communicate, and the opposition is incapable of making concessions.

Hard-working people make up much of the pyramid. They must be happy in order for the pyramid to be strong. And only a strong economy can get them going.

Koreans have survived the ghost of minus growth. The economy is expected to grow more than 5 percent this year.

But the crisis isn’t over yet. The unemployment rate among youth soared 59,000 to about 420,000. The people have to have hope for the future.

This year is one of the tiger. The tiger starts the journey this year from the periphery to the core. We don’t know how long it will take. But the important thing is to take the first step and never stop.



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