Good news for 2012

By Jay Kim
Despite concerns about a possible military coup due to the sudden death of Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un’s lack of experience, a stable transfer of power is quickly taking place in North Korea.
I was also concerned about the direction that China would take, but it seems to have chosen the stability of North Korea above all, worried about the hundreds of thousands of refugees that might move into its land. The news coming out of North Korea has been good, for the time being.
S&P, one of major credit-rating firms, gave Korea an A rating for this year. This grade, which means the country’s credit status is “stable,” is very significant, considering that the credit ratings of many advanced countries have been downgraded recently. By giving Korea an A rating, S&P showed that they are optimistic about the prospects of the Korean economy.
It is the opinion of many that the EU will survive through the difficulties of cutting down current welfare programs in 2012. Many have also predicted that the American economy will get better next year, with a 3 percent economic growth rate and a below-8-percent unemployment rate (even though its credit rating was downgraded slightly from AAA to AA+). The economies of the U.S. and Korea will likely continue to grow despite Europe’s instability holding back the growth of the global economy as a whole.
I have most frequently heard that, as the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is coming into effect, many U.S. corporations are seeking joint ventures with Korean corporations to develop the Chinese and Indian markets. This suggests the U.S. supported its FTA with Korea to capture the Chinese and Indian markets in partnership with Korea, based on the strong alliance between the two countries, rather than to aim for the Korean market.
As the brand of Korea is rapidly spreading throughout the world and the credibility of “Made in Korea” is rising, exploring a new market with the reputation of the U.S. and the brand of Korea will be a win-win strategy for both countries. The Korean economy will experience a boom, and per capita gross national income is expected to reach $30,000 in two years.
But will the current state of Korean politics continue to hold back the country’s economic progress? These days, Korean politics has been also restoring stability. The oppositions have been unified, and the governing Grand National Party (GNP), which was nearly dismantled, has recovered stability through the leadership of Park Geun-hye.
This is all wonderful news to everyone. I hope that those who spread strange rumors, such as the Korea-U.S. FTA would raise the price of an appendectomy from 300,000 won to 8 million won, will keep quiet this year.
I also hope that the judge who made profane remarks to the President learns the strict ethics of American judges and what happens if they make insulting remarks to the President of their country.
It is a concern is that the new Democratic Unity Party leans farther to the left than the original Democratic Party. It put many welfare policies, such as free lunches, free child care, free medical care, and half tuition into its written platform, and will continue the anti-FTA movement. This just follows the steps of Europe’s failure.
It is a big concern, since they want to spend the tax money from the people rather than to stimulate the economy through the expansion of corporations and the creation of jobs. The old Democratic Party was not like this as a real liberal party. I wish them to avoid being frogs in a well and expand their horizons in the coming new year of hope.
Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the KimChangJoon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com). The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Korea Times.

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