Gov't opens spigot to get young votes back

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Gov't opens spigot to get young votes back

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum heads a meeting on youth policy at start-up center Front1 in Mapo District, Seoul, on Thursday. [YONHAP]

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum heads a meeting on youth policy at start-up center Front1 in Mapo District, Seoul, on Thursday. [YONHAP]

 The government described 87 projects meant to help people between the ages of 19 and 34 get housing, jobs, welfare and education.  
 
One of the key projects is rental assistance of up to 200,000 won ($170) a month for 12 months to young people who makes 1.2 million won or less a month. 
 
Some 152,000 people are expected to qualify.  
 
Additionally, the government will offer interest-free loans for young people making less than 50 million won a year to pay rent.  
 
The government already guarantees loans offered by banks to young people who make 20 million won or less. However, those loan have interest rates of 1 percent.
 
To help with college tuitions, the government will expand scholarships that pay roughly half of people's tuitions. Currently, they are offered to students from poorer families.  
 
Starting next year, college students whose families make 5 million won or less per month will be eligible for annual scholarships of 3.5 million won to 7 million won.  
 
That size of the scholarships is also being raised.  
 
The government will fully pay college tuitions of people who are the third child in their family or above. To be eligible, family monthly incomes must be less than 5 million won. Some 140,000 students are eligible.  
 
To fund the tuition programs, the government has increased its budgets for national scholarships from this year’s 4 trillion won to 4.7 trillion won.  
 
Other measures include a program in which the government will match savings -- by multiple amounts -- that young people from low income families commit to a savings deposit.  
 
The program is supposed to encourage young people to save.  
 
It is only open to young people whose annual incomes are 24 million won or less.  
 
The maximum amount that a person can save is 1.2 million won a year. Once the deposit matures after three years, the person will withdraw between 7.2 million won and as much as 14.4 million won.  
 
Some 104,000 people will be eligible.  
 
For SMEs, the government will offer companies 9.6 million won annually for each young people they hire.  
 
The government is also creating a 200,000 won voucher for young people to get counseling for the so-called “corona blues,” depression caused by Covid-19. It hopes to help 15,000 young people. Individuals can get vouchers for three months of treatment. 
 
“Recently many of the young generation have been facing difficulties through no fault of their own,” said Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum during a Youth Policy Coordination meeting. “We have to do our best so the words ‘hope’ and ‘success’ could be imprinted on the youth, who are the future of our country.”  
 
Kim stressed that the focus of the projects is to level the playing field between the haves and have-nots in education, housing and other areas.  
 
The projects come in the wake of the Moon Jae-in government and the ruling Democratic Party losing popularity among young people.  
 
They are trying to turn the sentiment around ahead of the presidential election next March.  
 
The ruling party lost two mayoral seats in Seoul and Busan in April, which was considered to be the results of weak support from the young.  
 

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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