National Top Priority on Ensuring Peace on Korean Peninsula

Pres. Lee expounds his 2012 policy tasks during his New Year's address













President Lee Myung-bak attached top policy priority on national security, economy for low-income earners, and curbing prices.
President Lee told the nation during his New Year's address, televised nationwide on Jan. 2, "The window of opportunity always remains open." "Developments surrounding the Korean Peninsula are entering into a new period of transition, but new opportunities always emerge amidst such changes and uncertainties. The essential goal for us to achieve now is peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," he said.
President Lee called for a genuine change in the North's attitude. Despite the Stalinist North's launch of an offensive criticizing the South following the death of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Lee did not mention the preconditions for resuming inter-Korean relations an apology from the North for torpedoing the South Korean warship Cheonan and the bombing of Yeongpyeong Island in 2010.
"If North Korea comes forward with a sincere attitude, it will be possible for us to work together to open a new era of the Korean Peninsula. The South and North should end mutual distrust through dialogue and move onto the path toward mutual benefits and common prosperity. "I have expectations that this year will set a milestone for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. As soon as the North stops its nuclear-related activities, it will be possible for the six-party talks to resume.
"We are ready to provide the necessary support to ease North Korea's security concerns and resuscitate its economy based on what will be agreed upon at the six-party talks."
But he also stressed that South Korea will maintain a watertight defense posture. "If any aggression occurs, we will strongly respond," he declared.
Regarding the economy, the president said the government's goals in running the economic affairs of the nation this year will be geared toward stabilizing the lives of low-income families. "Last year saw sharp increases in consumer prices. Among other things, key money and monthly rent soared sharply, weighing heavily on the working class," he said. "Under all circumstances this year, the government will make efforts to curb inflation of consumer prices within the low 3 percent rage. Growth matters, but at the same time, the focus will also be placed on the stabilization of consumer prices." he noted.
The government, he said, will also put forward its fullest efforts to create job opportunities. "It will draw up this year's budget' tailored to increasing job opportunities and invest over 10 trillion won in securing more jobs," Lee said. "For the creation of jobs in the private sector, the government will strengthen assistance for small and medium-sized enterprises in all aspects, including fiscal matters, finance, procurement and fair transactions," he said.
Lee stressed that low fertility and aging poses a serious challenge to the future of the nation. "The government will place top priority on increasing the birth rate," he said. "Investments in childcare have been said to be a matter of welfare, rather, it is an investment in the future and the most efficient means to respond to low fertility and aging."
Lee said the government will strive to foster research in the field of science and technology, including IT, conducive to creating new industries and more jobs. "The government will help green growth be firmly settled both at home and abroad, laying a solid foundation for future progress.
"By successfully hosting the Yeosu Expo in May, the country's status as a leading maritime nation will be heightened. "For the first time in 20 years, the country will hold the National Assembly and presidential elections during the same year. With a historic sense of responsibility, the government will manage the elections fairly," he said.

President Lee Myung-bak said in a meeting with business leaders in Seoul on Jan. 5, "I encourage you not only to proactively invest abroad, but also to make more domestic investments." President Lee told a New Year meeting with business leaders hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), saying that domestic investments in some fields can produce more fruits.
He said hourly labor productivity stood at $59 in the United States, $49 in the European Community , but the figure was almost halved at $29 in Korea, so the nation has still room to further develop in terms of labor productivity.
If labor and management stick to principles, it could raise productivity and induce domestic investments, said the president, adding that taking a look at New Year messages by top business group leaders, he though that fortunately, business leaders tend to pursue job creation and shared growth.
KCCI Chairman Sohn said in his speech, "If all economic units join forces despite economic difficulties, the hardship will be translated into opportunities for growth." He called for individual companies to devote themselves to creating jobs and sustaining growth through investments and technology development.
Hur Chang-soo, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), said his federation will do its utmost in creating jobs and making investments in order to make the nation an economic power as well as pursing shared growth so that businesses can be respected.
Kim Ki-mun, chairman of the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business (KFSMB), said the foremost 2012 business buzzword is job creation, and more jobs for SMEs should be created. He expressed his hope this year is a year for establishing a corporate culture for job creation and shared growth.
Among Approximately 1,000 people at hand at the ceremony were President Lee,; KCCI Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik,; FKI Chairman Hur,; Sakong Il, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA),; Lee Hee-beom, chairman of the Korea Employers Federation,; KFSMB Chairman Kim,; Hyundai Motor Group Chong Mong-koo,; POSCO Chairman Chung Joon-yang,; other business leaders,; National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae,; Kim Joong-soo, governor of the Bank of Korea.; and foreign diplomats in Korea. nw


President Lee Myung-bak delivers his New Year address, televised nationwide on Jan. 2, in which he stressed peace on the Korean Peninsula.

President Lee joins business leaders and other representatives from several walks of life to toast for a happy new year at a meeting organized by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) at the COEX in Seoul on Jan. 5.

KCCI Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik speaks at a New Year meeting for businessmen at the COEX in Seoul.

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