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Making Korea Grow Again: Rebalancing the Moon Jae-in Economic Agenda
Region: Asia
Theme: Economics
Location: Korea, South
Published May 24, 2018
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The Moon Jae-in administration in South Korea has taken a two-pronged approach to ensure urgently needed job creation and inclusive growth. Although measures towards each set of economic policies have been implemented since Moon took office in May 2017, what’s often referred to as “incomeled growth” has been prioritized over innovative growth. The income-led growth model is largely driven by domestic consumption through pro-labor distributional policies including a wage hike to raise the disposable income of low- and middleincome individuals, thereby triggering equity with growth. Focused more on the supply side, the innovative growth model encourages startups to create jobs and innovate. It is a great challenge for Korea to pursue growth and equity through both sets of policies. After a year in office, the Moon administration’s economic agenda, often referred to as J-nomics, has not fully produced the intended policy objectives in terms of job creation and growth. To mitigate a declining potential growth rate and pursue robust and inclusive growth, the twin policies need to be rebalanced, reprioritized, and interconnected in a mutually reinforcing manner to empower the private sector to play a bigger role. As a mid-sized open economy, Korea requires global market competitiveness on the supply side to create decent jobs by buoying entrepreneurship and innovation. Structural reforms in the labor market combined with deregulations necessary for the advent of disruptive 4th-industrial-revolution technologies must be expedited. Furthermore, a new business ecosystem in which win-win collaborations between globally-oriented conglomerates and small businesses must be encouraged to replace a zero-sum business culture.

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