South Korea’s “Bernie Sanders” touted universal basic income before polls

A universal basic income (UBI) of more than US$400 per month is getting closer to reality for South Koreans, as major presidential candidates have vowed to introduce aggressive policies to combat worsening inequality.

UBI-a government program through which the state unconditionally pays everyone a monthly payment-is considered Some economists As a solution to deep-rooted poverty, liberals use it as a way to dismantle the bloated bureaucracy. But critics believe that the policy is unrealistic and unaffordable.

Lee Jae-Ming, who won the ruling party’s primary election this weekend, vowed that if he wins the presidential election in March, he will gradually implement the policy during his five-year term, which may make Asian countries the first country to adopt the Kuomintang. Universal basic income.

“True freedom is possible only when basic living conditions in all areas including income, housing and financing are guaranteed,” said Lee, who is likened to the left-wing US Senator Bernie Sanders.

He added that South Korea “should be a country where unfairness and inequality are resolved, and it has rich opportunities and dreams through sustained growth”.

Under Li’s plan, all Koreans will initially receive 1 million won (840 U.S. dollars) in payments each year, and this will increase year by year until they reach 500,000 won (420 U.S. dollars) per month.

Li is a member of the left-wing Democratic Party and the governor of the country’s most populous province. He is building a popular platform based on active welfare spending, low-cost public housing, and cheap loans for the poor.

But the 56-year-old is not alone in seeking unproven ideas to solve long-term problems that successive governments have failed to solve: soaring education and housing costs, rising household debt, rising youth unemployment, and an unparalleled poverty rate among the elderly And the lowest fertility rate in the world.

“As the health crisis continues, people agree that we need a stronger social safety net. As a result, they have gradually accepted some radical platforms that have long been regarded as socialist thinking,” said Park Zongxun, head of research at Standard Chartered Bank.

Kim Dong-yeon, a popular former finance minister, is trying to follow the example of French President Emmanuel Macron, hoping to go further and completely overthrow the county’s legal system.

“Korean law only provides for legal things, and the rest are considered illegal. But in many other developed countries, the situation should be the opposite,” Kim, who plans to run as an independent candidate, told the Financial Times. He believes that reform is necessary to stimulate deregulation and initiate innovation.

Jin is a professional bureaucrat. He found an abandoned civil service examination book in the trash can and got rid of poverty. But now he wants to cancel the entrance exam to improve the quality of the national bureaucracy, which may break the taboo of life-long security promised to civil servants.

Conservative opposition candidates are also embracing the sentiment of giving to get rid of their more severe economic and market-based tendencies.

They pay more attention to real estate prices, which is a core sign of the growing fragmentation of the Korean economy.

Despite at least 20 new policy initiatives aimed at curbing price increases, apartment prices have almost doubled since President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017.

Many middle-class families are turned away from the real estate market. The average apartment price in Seoul reaches US$1 million, which is a threshold that few Koreans consider possible.

Yoon Seok-youl, a former chief prosecutor and main opposition candidate, is trying to attract young voters by promising 500,000 half-price homes. Other candidates have proposed a series of large-scale development projects, including the relocation of a military airport in the south of the capital to increase the supply of housing land.

However, critics questioned the sustainability of the plan on the grounds of funding issues.

Paul Choi, an economist at the investment group CLSA, said that Lee’s victory may bring about a short-term “steroid effect,” but it would endanger the long-term health of Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The focus on inequality marks the same thing as the moon five years ago. Spectacular corruption scandal It involves the impeached former President Park Geun-hye.

Booming exports and a strong healthcare response helped South Korea achieve one of the fastest recoveries in the world from the recession caused by the pandemic last year. But senior officials admitted that during the coronavirus pandemic, they were caught off guard by the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Shin Yeul, a political science professor at Seoul Myongji University, said that next year’s polls look set to be “dominated by populism.”

“There are a lot of people in financial trouble, and they want a charismatic leader with a strong image,” Shen said, “no matter how credible their platform is.”

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