It hasn’t come to anyone’s surprise over the past decade that South Korea’s economy has increasingly grown bleaker with time. In fact, the last two presidents appointed to the Blue House, President Lee Myung-bak and (tentatively) President Park Geun-hye, were both noted for their focus on casting the spotlight upon South Korea’s economic impediments. Aside from whether their presidencies were successful in applying the necessary treatment to South Korea’s economic needs, the recent political turmoil in South Korea has led to an undeniable slowing of economic growth and an exacerbation of the urgent economic needs within South Korea.
Prior to South Korea’s scandal of Choi and President Park, Hanjin Shipper, South Korea’s largest container shipper, went into receivership, a type of corporate bankruptcy. Furthermore, Samsung, South Korea’s leading electronic giant that makes up 17% of their yearly national GDP, has recently canceled its development and creation of the Galaxy Note 7, creating difficult fluctuations in the economy. As an export based country, for South Korea’s exports to China to drop by 2.3% and for total sales in 2016 to decline by 5.9 % is an indicator of just the tip of the iceberg. Plagued by dropping employment rates, rising household debt, and periodic news of embezzlement, South Korea has evidently displayed its urgency for new economic policies to be set in place. However, the media’s wide coverage of the President scandal has left the economic issues of the peninsula to be left unattended to.
(Source: The World Bank)
(Source: Trading Economics)
Moreover, the uncertainty of the future of the southern peninsula has been reflected in both the finances and consumption of the people. As the KOSPI continues to have large fluctuations that have only recently moderately stabilized, consumption by South Korean citizens in the domestic market has continued to show a pattern of stagnation and decrease when looking at household consumption rates. While this pattern itself finds its roots in the increasing household debt of South Korean citizens that have coerced them to decrease spending, it is justifiably the government’s responsibility to iron out the wrinkles in the economy. Furthermore, whilst the economic damages continue to stockpile, political turmoil has led to President Park appointing a new prime minister and finance minister as of November 2, 2016. Not only has such action caused paralysis within the government’s economic department to take immediate action against an urgent issue, but the sudden change will also inevitably cause opposition within the ranks of the government, causing economic policies to be delayed even further.
What must we do then?
Perhaps it may already be too late to find an immediate answer to the question. If President Park is to be impeached, then another sixty days will be taken to elect a new president. Media coverage will inevitably be focused upon the candidates, and economic policies will be put second in both the eyes of the people and government. As clique as it may sound, at the time it is up to us to find a way to maintain the awareness of such issues. One option may be to support a presidential candidate that focuses on economic policies and incentivize other presidential candidates to move their campaign on the basis of the future economical situation of South Korea. While time is short, change needed many, and turmoil still hectic, it is, in the end, up to us citizens to push for the future of our much needy country.