Looking for new leadershipThe new Park Geun-hye administration officially kicks off today amidst growing demands for welfare and “economic justice.” Park championed people’s happiness as the biggest task of her government. However, given all the hardships that lie ahead, her mission will not be easy to accomplish.
The most pressing issue facing the new administration is without a doubt the security threat from North Korea as Park must deal with a nuclear-armed North Korea now. Moreover, the Park administration must find some feasible solutions to the nuclear danger in the framework of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, the first challenge for her security and diplomacy team should be building up capabilities to counter the North’s nuclear threat and at the same time tightening the networks of international collaboration, which will require efforts to boost relations with the new governments in Beijing and Tokyo.
Economic challenges are also one of the most pressing issues for any government. Not having absolutely recovered from the 2008 global financial crisis, the Korean economy still finds itself on a tight rope. Wealth polarization is deepening, and the economic slowdown in Europe and the rapidly weakening Japanese yen are hurting our economy, making it teeter on perhaps a permanent track of low growth. Against that backdrop, it would be almost meaningless to resort to a temporary stimulus package. The answer lies with finding growth engines over the long haul to raise our growth potential. Though the mounting demands for welfare are hard to ignore, Park must figure out how to fund new welfare programs by striking a balance between the demands and the budget through a public consensus.
Last but not least, Park must listen to people’s worries about her leadership style. Before it’s too late, she must adopt a new leadership style that is less secretive and less wary of communications. Presidential leadership cannot be overemphasized no matter how her decisions relate to people’s daily lives. She must demonstrate a new ability to persuade through transparent communication.
The driving force of our industrial achievement for the half-century came from growth-oriented economic policies led by the state. As the times have changed, citizens are clamoring for a welfare state that can bring citizens security. One way to achieve it would be a decisive deviation from Park’s father’s growth-centered economic policies. We hope the Park Geun-hye government makes a successful transition over the next five years.