Different phrasing, same regulations

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Different phrasing, same regulations

The author is a national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Ankle weight sandbags for physical training are mentioned often as President Yoon Suk-yeol compares regulations hindering business activities to the weight bangles. At a meeting with senior secretaries on May 30, Yoon said, “It is hard for companies to wear sandbags and compete in the global market.” The comment was made after major corporations, including Samsung, Hyundai Motors, SK and Lotte, announced large-scale investment plans. The new president showed a determination to lift regulations.

The comparison to sandbags seems new, but campaign promises to remove stifling regulations are always made by administrations. Former President Lee Myung-bak said he would “take out utility poles” and former President Park Geun-hye said she would remove “the prick under the nail.” Former President Moon Jae-in came up with the idea of a “regulatory sandbox.” Administrations changed, but regulations have always been a hot potato because Korea has especially many regulations and created more regulations than lifting. That means that regulations were not removed properly despite the slogans.

What makes Yoon’s comment different? He said, “Shadow regulations such as administrative regulations not related to the laws should be clearly improved, and other regulations also should be removed quickly if they can be changed through executive orders and ministerial ordinances.” He added, “If legislative revision is required, they should be abolished by working with the National Assembly.” He only made obvious arguments, claiming to quickly remove regulations that can be removed quickly and try to persuade other parties to support regulations that require legislative revision.

Execution is more important than words. The president must go around and listen to the challenges of the companies and remove unnecessary regulations based on the stories in the field. Yoon relocated his presidential office to Yongsan in only two months and reduced the 40-day advance legislation notice period to two days in order to set up an organization aimed at reviewing personnel affairs for appointments in the Ministry of Justice. He must employ that kind of determination to remove myriads of government regulations.

Deregulation is working to create conditions for Korean companies to equally compete in the global market. It is a way to save companies, workers and other citizens. It must not be delayed, and there is no reason to. From the utility pole to the prick under the nail to the sandbag, Korean people are so tired of the same repertoire even if they come up with a more clever comparison.
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