Moon Claims 'Macroeconomic' Success Amid Dire Indicators

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    May 10, 2019 13:35

    President Moon Jae-in on Thursday claimed that Korea has achieved a "major success from a macroeconomic perspective."

    Moon made the claim, which comes amid some of the direst economic indicators in decades, in an interview with KBS marking his second year in office. "We need to be proud of this," he added.

    He claimed that Korea achieved "outstanding" economic growth in the OECD and came second place only after the U.S. But in fact Korea's economy contracted for a third month in April, so it is unclear what he was referring to.

    President Moon Jae-in speaks during an interview with KBS at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Thursday. /Courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae

    Moon did admit that the contraction is "an area of concern," but added his growth target for the year is 2.5 to 2.6 percent, rather higher than the constantly downgraded projections by local and international institutions.

    He projected Korea's economy will grow in the mid to upper two-percent range in the second half.

    More bafflingly yet, he appeared to claim that youth unemployment, which is at record highs, fell significantly. "I would like to point out that the population aged 25 to 29 increased significantly, but the employment situation in that age group improved considerably," he said. "It is clearly apparent that the quality of labor and employment have improved."

    The president added it "pains my heart" that small businesses are unable to share the benefits of his "income-led growth" model, which centers around a steep hike in the minimum wage that put many small entrepreneurs out of business.

    "At least those who fall into the scope of the employment have seen wages and other conditions improve," he said. Moon also insisted that the proportion of low-income earners fell to the lowest level ever, suggesting no imminent change of direction.

    In other remarks, Moon said this is not the right time to talk about pardoning former presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak because their trials are still going on.

    Moon, who was elected on a promise of greater transparency and inclusiveness after Park's ouster, declared himself "speechless" at criticism from the opposition of his leadership as "dictatorial" and "leftist."  

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