Moon’s Blue House releases a 100-point agenda

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Moon’s Blue House releases a 100-point agenda

The Moon Jae-in government has announced an ambitious policy to get North Korea to freeze its nuclear program and ultimately terminate it by 2020.

The policy was described in a 100-point agenda for the next five years unveiled on Wednesday.

“In order to draw an agreement [with North Korea] for complete termination of the nuclear program by 2020, the government will come up with comprehensive measures for the North’s denuclearization that will start with putting a freeze on its nuclear programs,” said the Moon government.

The government said it will work hard to restrain the North from provocations with measures built on a strong Seoul-Washington alliance and international cooperation. The Blue House emphasized the need for inter-Korea dialogue and economic cooperation while taking into consideration international sanctions levied on the Communist state.

The 100-agenda project was drawn up by the State Affairs Advisory Committee that served as a de-facto transition committee since the Moon government took power on May 10, just a day after a snap election. The advisory committee received 290 briefings from 85 government agencies over the past 60 days to come up with an agenda that ranges from economics to energy policy, North Korea policy, national security, welfare policy and diplomacy, among others.

Moon has said that inter-Korea talks should aim at a freeze of Pyongyang’s nuclear program while the end point would be its termination. The previous administration of Park Geun-hye insisted Pyongyang end its nuclear program before inter-Korea dialogue could be resumed.

To counter the North’s military provocations, the government vowed to complete a three-point military defense system.

The three systems are Kill Chain, Korea Air Missile Defense (KAMD) and Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR). Kill Chain is a pre-emptive strike system designed to target North Korean missile sites at times of imminent threat. KAMD focuses on terminal-phase, low-altitude missile defense. KMPR is designed to launch attacks on the North’s leadership if signs of a nuclear-weapon attack are detected.

While the government pledged to build stronger military capability to counter the North’s asymmetric war capabilities, it also vowed to resume inter-Korea dialogue and business cooperation, which it said could produce a “momentum for future economic growth” for South Korea.

“The government aims to set up the foundation of economic reunification by striving for a single market cooperation with North Korea and a new economic map (on the peninsula),” said the government.

Moon on Wednesday re-emphasized the importance of improved inter-Korea relation to solve the nuclear conundrum. “We are searching for a change in inter-Korea relations,” said Moon at an agenda presentation event at the Blue House. “While we maintain strong cooperation with the international community to solve North Korea’s nuclear problem, we have taken steps to improve relations with the North by proposing inter-Korea military talks and reunions of separated families. Improved inter-Korea relation will help solve the North’s nuclear problem.”

While stressing the importance of maintaining a rock-solid alliance with Washington, the presidential office put forth its plan to acquire wartime operational control of Korean forces from the U.S Forces Korea by the end of Moon’s five-year-term, which ends in 2022.

At a meeting with political party leaders Wednesday, Moon was vaguer on the timing for the change in wartime operation control, saying he wanted it to occur “at the earliest date.”

Acquiring wartime operational control has been a running issue dating back to the Roh Moo-hyun government, for which Moon served as presidential chief of staff and senior civil affairs secretary. The former Roh government initially agreed with the George W. Bush administration that wartime operational control would be turned over to the Korean military by 2012, which was postponed repeatedly by the conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park governments.

On the economic front, the government said South Korea’s current economy now suffers from low growth, job shortages and socioeconomic inequality. To address these problems, it said the country needs an economic growth strategy that produces benefits to be shared by all members of society, encompassing big business, small to medium-size companies, employees and employers. As part of its initiative, it said it would create 810,000 new jobs in the public sector.

“At the center of solving the job shortage problem is creating new jobs while at the same time lowering working hours and reducing the number of non-salaried workers,” the government said.

The Moon government also highlighted the role candlelight vigils in its coming to powers. The vigils helped drive out former President Park from power and enabled the May 9 snap election. In a display of gratitude for the months of street protests, it called them the “2016 Candlelight Revolution.”

“What the 2016 Candlelight Revolution demanded was an end to an elitist political system set apart from national interests, failing to reflect the voices of the people,” said the government in the agenda. Touching on that point, the Moon government said “communication with the public” was “important above all” as it was a “government born by the Candlelight Revolution.”

To follow through with Moon’s campaign pledge for constitutional change, the government said it would strive for a change that decentralizes power invested in the central government. The government said it will push for an amendment by the end of 2018.

In a departure from staid government briefings of the past, the Blue House introduced a TED Talks-like stage to its Wednesday presentation attended by cabinet members and lawmakers. Presenters of the agenda, who took part in the drawing up of the agenda plans, stood on the stage with PowerPoint presentations behind them.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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