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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 8)

All News 07:00 January 08, 2018

New Year message
President should focus on raising quality of people's lives

President Moon Jae-in will give a New Year speech Jan. 10, his first since taking office in May 2017.

The speech will be delivered at a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae. The last time Moon held a press conference was in August 2017 to mark his 100th day in office. It received a lot of attention because he took questions freely from the media, unlike his predecessors. But he failed to assuage some of grave concerns people have about his presidency, such as his overly ambitious pledges.

During the upcoming press conference, the President will choose reporters on the spot to ask questions, in a style similar to White House press events.

The more relaxed communication between the President and the press is a welcome change, but that alone will not be enough for the press conference to be a success.

People will be looking for concrete content about what his administration will do next year to improve the people's lives. The people want to hear fundamental measures to create jobs and boost the economy and make the country a better place for the elderly and for young people.

The President arrived at Cheong Wa Dae with a lot of expectations that he would build a new Korea after the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye. The new President has enjoyed much popularity since his election, but many people feel their lives have not changed since Moon took power.

Koreans are still struggling to find jobs and even those who have jobs can barely make ends meet with stagnant incomes and rising taxes.

The Moon administration's most vital task this year is to improve the people's lives by better responding to the jobs crisis, a low birthrate and an aging society — some of the biggest problems facing Korea today.

Korea has become a bad place to live for people of all generations. The popular term "hell Joseon" sums up the frustration of young people amid the worst youth unemployment since the financial crisis of the late 1990s.

Korea has become one of the worst places to have babies as shown by the declining birthrate. More are unable to get married and have a family due to financial instability and rising living costs.

The older generation is struggling to make ends meet after retirement. A recent report shows that Korea's elderly poverty rate is the highest among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members, with 42.7 percent of people aged 66 to 72 living in relative poverty. Korea also has the highest rate of elderly suicide among OECD countries.

Korea's young people are also unhappy and overstressed with a dysfunctional education system focused solely on good grades and getting admitted to top universities.

Korea placed 31 out of 32 OECD countries in a recent global happiness index. Moon's New Year speech should provide some source of hope for all Koreans during these desperate times.

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