Published : 2013-10-30 19:13
Updated : 2013-10-30 19:13
Calls for measures to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit are resonating beyond business circles and reaching Korean society as a whole this week.
In her speech marking the 2013 Entrepreneurship Week, which began Monday, President Park Geun-hye said entrepreneurship was critical for reviving the economy and opening up an “era of happiness” for all people. She pledged to eliminate unnecessary regulations and establish a healthy economic ecosystem.
The trade, industry and energy minister, who read the speech during a ceremony at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, further reflected her thoughts in a meeting with business leaders by noting that active entrepreneurship was essential for fostering a creative economy.
The KCCI head said contemporary entrepreneurs were tasked with enhancing entrepreneurship inherited from their elders, stressing the need to create an environment where more youths can unleash their passion to have a better future.
Entrepreneurship Week first started in 2008 in a bid to overcome the global economic crisis at the time. The Park administration has tried to refresh entrepreneurial spirit as it is pushing for the creative economy policy initiative aimed at nurturing startups on the strength of the country’s advanced information and communications technology.
But a set of surveys show this spirit has been on the ebb in the country. In a recent KCCI survey of local corporate executives, 82 percent said entrepreneurship had withered, giving its current level 6.38 points on a scale from zero to 10. Korea placed 43rd, behind Oman and Chile, in the latest Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index list of 70 countries. In another international comparison, the number of business founders per 1,000 people remained at 1.83 in Korea, far below the average of 3.42 for the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
These figures are worrisome at a time when entrepreneurship holds the key to enhancing a nation’s innovative capacity and international competitiveness. All major advanced economies have been trying to pull out of a prolonged economic slowdown by fostering more favorable conditions for entrepreneurial activities.
Korea has been backpedalling on deregulation, which is crucial for unleashing entrepreneurial spirit. The number of new regulatory measures increased from 11,521 in 2009 to 14,548 last year, with the Park administration having also added about 500 since its launch in February.
More bold and drastic efforts are needed to boost entrepreneurship. Park should further push government agencies to abolish all unnecessary regulations as she pledged. Her administration has done the right thing in earmarking more funds for startups and entrepreneurs struggling to get back on their feet after failure. Still, more comprehensive and creative initiatives should be taken to create a culture of taking on challenges without fear of failure.