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‘Korean New Deal’ discussed to cushion impact of coronavirus

State projects likely to include remote medical services, online education

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

South Korean ministries and state agencies will soon begin to discuss a package of economic stimulus measures, referred to as a “Korean New Deal,” aimed at revitalizing the novel coronavirus-wrecked economy, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Sunday.

The “Korean New Deal” will include policies to nurture emerging technologies that have been thrust into the limelight in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, such as remote medical services and online educational technologies that do not require physical contact between users.

The Finance Ministry said at an emergency meeting Wednesday that government ministries and state-run agencies would set the direction of the economic programs and would establish cross-ministry bodies to lead the initiatives.

The move comes after the government mentioned the importance of creating new jobs, as well as for the nation to become smarter and safer, last week.

“The extensive economic package, the Korean New Deal suggested by President Moon Jae-in, is aimed at not only supporting the job market in the short term, but creating new jobs (in diverse industries) in the long run,” said Hong in a press briefing Wednesday, adding that the package would cover digitalization of the nation as well as investment in culture, infrastructure and alternative energy.

Telemedicine and online education are expected to make the list of initiatives supported by the package.

Providing remote medical services, such as diagnoses and prescriptions online, is severely restricted under the current laws. A smartwatch featuring an electrocardiography function, developed years ago, was not available until recently because of the restrictions.

The edu-tech, or e-learning, segment is expected to gain some steam through the government’s planned economic measures due to soaring demand for non-face-to-face education in recent months. The government will likely purchase and distribute mobile and virtual reality devices for schools across the nation, improving access to quality education for those students living in cities as well as remote areas.

“Details have not been decided yet, but government officials will deal with a range of issues for the new deal, including employment in the public sector,” a source was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency.

The planned infrastructure investment will likely be focused on transitioning public spaces into multipurpose community facilities rather than building new railways or roads. Equipping traditional factories and cities with smart technologies is also forecast to be part of the new deal.

Meanwhile, the government plans to draw up a third supplementary budget in June. The budget is expected to be worth nearly 30 trillion won ($24.4 billion). After submitting an 11.7 trillion won supplementary budget in March this year, the government drew up the second earlier this month, worth 12.2 trillion won.

The combined value of this year’s supplementary budgets is expected to amount to about 50 trillion won, much higher than the 28.9 trillion won allotted in 2009 when the nation was reeling from the global financial crisis.


By Kim Young-won  (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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