Smothering national industry

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Smothering national industry

During President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to Russia this week, the Korean government will discuss cooperation in medical technology. Korea’s skills regarding medical checkups and telemedicine are held in high regard in Russia. While pitching Korea’s top-rated technology abroad, the Korean government strangely keeps heavy layers of regulation and hampers advancement in the medical industry inside the country.

Telemedicine technology from Korea has the credence to be demanded in the Middle East. But at home, its application is limited as it is illegal. The previous government aimed to make it into a future growth industry, but the revised bill failed to pass the National Assembly. It was resubmitted to the 20th incumbent legislature, but remains idle because of opposition by the now-ruling Democratic Party.

The Korean Employers Federation urged the government to allow hospitals to operate for-profit and telemedicine services, but the Democratic Party and left-wing Justice Party stubbornly opposed it in fear of provoking the union.

Telemedicine is commonplace in most countries. The United States allowed it 20 years ago. The industry is already 20 years old in Japan and expanding. China also licensed remote healthcare from 2014. Governments around the world are grooming a new sector integrating medical and telecommunications, equipment and software technologies as it can add immeasurable value to the economy, public health and jobs.

The progressive government has kept up its double standards in industrial policies. It champions nuclear reactor policies for exports, but kills the industry at home through a phase-out plan. As soon as the ruling party won the local elections by a landslide, it closed down the Wolsong-1 reactor before its life cycle even ended and canceled earlier plans to build four additional reactors. But few countries would be persuaded to purchase technology, products or services that are being discouraged and eliminated at home.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 20, Page 30
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