|Rep. Cho Jeong-sik of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea announces the party plans to provide free WiFi services to all people across the country by 2022, as the party's first pledge for the April 15 general election, at the National Assembly in Seoul, Jan. 15. / Yonhap|
By Kim Rahn
Political parties are coming up with campaign pledges ahead of the April 15 general election, and each party's "first promise" gives an indication as to their main priorities and their target demographics.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) has presented a "free WiFi for all" pledge, as a part of its focus on improving people's livelihood and welfare. The pledge is also targeting the younger generations in their 20s to 30s who use a large amount of mobile data.
According to the promise, the party would work with the government to provide public WiFi at 53,000 locations across the country such as bus terminals, museums and traditional markets, by 2022. "We expect the public WiFi networks to help all people save on telecommunication fees," Rep. Cho Jeong-sik, head of the DPK's policy committee, said, Jan. 15.
The minor progressive Justice Party's first pledge also targets young people and deals with livelihood, but in a rather radical way ― it pledges to set up a law to provide 30 million won ($25,600) to all people aged 20, and up to 50 million won to those without parents.
The monetary support is aimed at giving young people assets so they can start a career and stand on their own two feet without their parents' help.
"It will be a society without hope, if young people who can't take advantage of their parents' influence, are deprived of dreams and live without hope," Justice Party Chairwoman Sim Sang-jeung said, Jan. 9. "If they don't have any benefits given by parents, society needs to give one."
Sim said the budget can be obtained by raising inheritance and gift tax and collecting wealth tax.
|Rep. Chung Dong-young, center, head of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace, promises the party will seek to provide 1 million apartments at 100 million won, after a party meeting at the National Assembly, Jan. 20. / Yonhap|
The minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace also presented a pledge to help people in low-income brackets, especially those who don't own homes.
It pledged to provide 1 million 66-square-meter houses at 100 million won, by building them on state-owned land, in an effort to stabilize housing prices and offer homes to young people and newlyweds who usually don't have enough money to buy ― or even lease ― a house. In Seoul, the median price of a house is estimated at 900 million won.
"We need a shakeup in housing supply, breaking from private builders-led public housing constructions," the party Chairman Chung Dong-young said, Jan. 20.
The first pledge by the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) is quite different from others in that it aims to "judge" the Moon Jae-in administration ― an apparent move to court conservative voters who are against the liberal government.
LKP presented a set of economy-related promises, and most of them are to reverse the Moon government's policies. Most notably, it pledges to abolish Moon's nuclear phase-out policy and resume operation of a halted nuclear power plant and construction of two plants.
"The Moon government's anti-nuclear plant policy is causing astronomical losses to power-related public organizations and giving financial burdens to future generations," the LKP said in a statement, Jan. 15.
The LKP also promised to reform the nation's labor market by introducing various types of working hour systems with more flexibility, which it claims will minimize the side effects of the 52-hour workweek system implemented by the Moon administration.
"The state-led policy should be abolished, and the paradigm on the economy should be shifted from regulations and bureaucracy to freedom and fairness," LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn said.
|Main opposition Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn, center, announced a set of economy-related promises, which are aimed at reversing the Moon Jae-in government's policies, at the National Assembly, Jan. 15. / Yonhap|