The South Korean government and the nation's ruling party agreed Saturday to maintain the policy of boosting economic growth with a focus on expanding the income of ordinary people.
The decision was made in spite of growing criticism of the signature policy of the left-leaning Moon Jae-in administration amid slower-than-expected job creation.
In an unprecedented gathering of all ruling party lawmakers, Cabinet members and presidential officials, the participants also agreed to seek ways to minimize the impact from the "change of a paradigm," according to a press briefing on the results of the session presided over by the president.
They also reaffirmed a determination to get the April 27 inter-Korean summit deal ratified by the National Assembly in a bid to drum up public support for the implementation of it, which requires state budget spending.
The main opposition, conservative Liberty Korea Party is opposed to ratifying it, saying denuclearization is more urgent.
The session, held at the meeting at Moon's office Cheong Wa Dae, came two days after his first Cabinet shake-up to replace five ministers, including the defense chief and the top education policymaker.
Late last month, the Democratic Party of Korea picked Rep. Lee Hae-chan, a seven-term lawmaker, as its new leader.
At the start of the meeting, Moon called for an unswerving reform drive despite a falling approval rating.
"The task of the times that we have to achieve together is clear," Moon said.
It's to create a fair and just country through strong and constant reform measures, widely dubbed the "liquidation of past malpractices."
He pointed out that South Korea is at a time of a "grand shift."
He stressed the need for addressing the gap between the haves and have-nots via an appropriate distribution policy and promoting the co-prosperity between South and North Korea on the basis of denuclearization and a peace regime.
To that end, the president said, Cheong Wa Dae, the ruling party and the government should make concerted efforts.
Moon, in particular, cited negative side effects from South Korea's growth-oriented approach in the past, such as widening income disparity and misconducts by some vested powers.
Inter-Korean relations were once broken and the cloud of war was cast over Korea, he said.
The time when the people publicly asked about "whether South Korea is a (desirable) country" is the very starting point of the Moon government, he said.
The new head of the ruling party said what's important for now is to win the parliamentary ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration.
Moon's approval rating recently dropped below 60 percent, according to opinion polls.
His economic policy, especially the income-driven growth, has drawn fierce protests from opposition parties and other critics. (Yonhap)