Ruling party stands behind Moon

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Ruling party stands behind Moon

The leader of the ruling party vowed on Tuesday to support the president’s economic policies.

“President Moon’s inclusive growth model of income-led growth, innovative growth and a fair economy will become a new paradigm for Korea’s economy and help open an era of $40,000 GNI per capita,” said Lee Hae-chan, who was recently elected chairman of the Democratic Party, in a speech before the National Assembly.

Lee focused his speech on economic issues amid growing controversy over the Moon Jae-in administration’s signature income-led growth policy. Public support for Moon and his party has been falling as critics say the labor-friendly policy hurts investment and job growth.

Lee stressed that although Korea is on the threshold of joining the pantheon of advanced countries, it could fall into a trap of low growth if innovation does not back it up.

Korea’s GNI per capita reached $29,745 in 2017, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the Bank of Korea.

“In the $30,000 [GNI per capita] era, it is not as easy to achieve steep growth as in the past,” Lee said. “Income inequality could worsen, and the economy could undergo a crisis and fall into a long slump if there is no innovation. For sustainable growth, we need to craft tailored, creative models to boost public welfare and improve the labor market as well as achieve innovative growth.”

It marked Lee’s first speech as a party leader since September 2012, when he led the opposition Democratic United Party.

Touching on North Korea, Lee said that the party would spearhead efforts to restart operations at the shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex.

In February 2016, the conservative Park Geun-hye government closed the complex, the last vestige of inter-Korean cooperation, in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.

Resuming operations, however, will not be easy amid international sanctions unless there is tangible progress on North Korea’s denuclearization.

Lee stressed the need to fully implement the Panmunjom Declaration signed by Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to pave the way for the North’s denuclearization and inter-Korean economic exchange.

“To this end, ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration is necessary,” he said.

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