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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 1)

2018/01/01 09:17

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Start anew

: Let's work together to bring hope to nation

A new year has just begun with hope for a better life. Marking a fresh start for the Year of the Dog, people are craving for a change for the better, especially after they went through many ups and downs in 2017.

Last year the nation witnessed the ouster of impeached President Park Geun-hye over a massive corruption scandal and the election of liberal President Moon Jae-in. There were also big issues such as North Korea's sixth nuclear test and ICBM launches and Chinese economic retaliation against South Korean firms over the deployment of the U.S. anti-missile battery here.

First of all, President Moon must make concerted efforts to make good on his promise to make Korea a fair and just society. This is the people's mandate following the "candlelight revolution" against Park and her regime.

However, to the disappointment of the public, he has yet to make real progress in his much-avowed policy of eliminating deep-rooted corruption and other ills of our society. Thus it is imperative to make a clean sweep of the old evils once and for all and move toward national harmony and reconciliation.

The Moon administration also needs to establish a new political structure that can promote dialogue and cooperation with opposition parties. Since his inauguration Moon has vowed to work with the opposition to ensure "win-win" politics. But the stark reality shows the opposite. His ruling Democratic Party of Korea is engaged in deep partisan strife with the Liberty Korea Party and other minority parties over contentious matters, including a revision of the Constitution.

More important is to reinvigorate the stagnant economy. The economy was projected to grow by 3.2 percent last year and is set for 3 percent this year. These figures are higher than expected. But the country still has a long way to go before enjoying a more robust expansion because the better-than-expected growth is based on an export boom of only a few industrial products such as semiconductors.

Against this backdrop, it will be difficult to create more jobs this year although Moon's economic team plans to put top priority on increasing employment. His income-led growth policy might not go anywhere if he fails to offer more job opportunities, particularly for the youth.

On the diplomatic front, the country will face mounting challenges arising from North Korea's nuclear ambitions and U.S. President Donald Trump's hard-line policy against Pyongyang. Besides, Seoul will have to grapple with worsening ties with Japan over the controversial 2015 deal to solve the wartime sex slavery issue. It also should strive to fully restore relations with China as the anti-missile battery problem still lingers.

Against all odds, we hope that President Moon will exercise his leadership to the best of his ability to bring peace and stability to the peninsula and make the country a better place to live. And let's work together to make the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics a success.

(END)

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