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Pledges of the Young, by the Young, for the Young
(go.seoul.co.kr)

On May 10th, the term of the 19th President Moon Jae-in finished, and the 20th President Yoon Seok-yeol started. Since the votes of people in their 20s and 30s were crucial in this presidential election, many pledges were made for them. Hence, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) would like to review the results of the presidential election and the pledges targeting young people and suggest the necessary changes for implementing them.

What Were the Results of the Close Presidential Election?

Vote for 20th President (news.sbs.co.kr)

On March 9th, Yoon Seok-yeol, the candidate of the People Power Party, was elected the 20th president with 48.6% of the votes in the 20th presidential election. As Lee Jae-myung, the candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, got 47.8% of the votes, the gap between the two candidates was only 0.73%. It was the smallest difference in presidential election history. Although the final turnout in the election was 77.1%, similar to the previous presidential election, the early vote turnout was the highest ever at 36.9%, showing people’s heightened interest in the election. For this election, young people accounted for about 14 million, a third of the total 44 million voters. Therefore, each candidate also put importance on their pledges to the younger generations. They both emphasized the economic independence of young people in education, employment, and housing. Under these circumstances, the most important direction for the Yoon administration is the economic model. President Yoon mentioned businessfriendly pledges that respect market principles when asked about the biggest differences from the previous government at a press conference on January 11th during an election campaign. The income-led growth model of the previous government put importance on workers’ household income. However, President Yoon’s economic model was a digital economy led by private corporations by reducing government interference as much as possible and utilizing market efficiency.

Pledges for the Young in Three Aspects

01. What Changes Will Come to the University?

On February 14th, President Yoon announced that he would ease regulations on universities and revise the current uniform evaluation methods to make the most of each university’s characteristics. For this pledge, the university degree programs and operations are entirely entrusted to universities. It will be applied to the universities with new industries first, which are related to science and engineering-oriented universities with intelligent robots and artificial intelligence (AI), and expand step by step. As the new government aims to be businessfriendly, universities are expected to change together. For example, President Yoon introduced the “Enterprise University” system, which means contract departments in universities with companies that nurture students tailored to their needs. In the case of Sungkyunkwan University, the Department of Semiconductor System Engineering is a representative example. In addition, he promised an increment in national scholarships and investment in students’ education and educational conditions in local flagship universities. It aims to raise universities in capital areas and local universities to the same level. This can have an additional effect on economic growth in local areas. Some poor universities or local universities with insufficient students will be changed to be used as educational institutions, data centers, and start-up centers. However, Professor An Seonhoe of Jungbu University pointed out that if financial support is focused only on specific universities, other universities in local areas will not survive, and the local economy cannot be revived again.

Ten Local Flagship Universities (jmagazine.joins.com)

02. Roadmap before and after Being Employed

Young people living in local areas suffer from the lack of absolute quantity and quality of jobs compared to the capital area. To cover this fact, President Yoon promised that he would promote a local specialized “Young Leap Base Camp.” This camp has the purpose of managing local young people’s career development. It plans to provide career exploration, mentoring, and training services for job seekers in interesting industries. For instance, in Pohang, various specialized education and infrastructure for young people have been built to form “Silicon Valley in Pohang.” For financial help, the “Repayment Loan System” and a “Young Leap Account” have been introduced. The Repayment Loan System is a system in which the government lends expenses up to ₩10 million at a lowinterest rate for living and job preparation. Young people can repay it after employment, and it will start with the young at the low-income level and expand its range gradually. The Young Leap Account is a 10-year term installment saving for the young with a job. If they keep a certain amount within the limit of ₩700,000 per month, the government provides incentives to help save ₩100 million. The funds raised by the Young Leap Account will be invested in companies that help employment creation of young people, which leads to a virtuous cycle. However, the actual number of people receiving benefits will not be as much as expected because of the income and property standards.

Employment Assistance

03. Can the Dream of Owning a House Come True?

Homes for Young People Scheme (heraldcorp.com)

In August 2021, President Yoon presented the blueprint for the pledge for housing stability. Among them, he pledged to supply 300,000 “Prime Cost Houses” and the “Loan to Value Ratio (LTV)” for young people trying to get on the property ladder. The Prime Cost House scheme is designed for the young to buy a house at a prime cost and ensure 70% of the marginal profit when selling the house if they have lived there for more than five years. Since young people can sell their houses to the government rather than the market, they can guarantee profits. Also, he would raise the LTV to 70% for citizens and 80% for homeless newlyweds and the young. The LTV is a ratio of how much loan can be borrowed compared to the value of the house at the time of acquisition when using the house as collateral. The amount that can be borrowed is decided by multiplying the LTV and the house’s value. For example, with an apartment with a market price of ₩300 million, if people can borrow up to 80%, then they can get a loan of up to ₩240 million. In addition, President Yoon also pledged to give five additional points to military service members in the housing subscription merit system. This subscription system helps people trying to get on the ladder by providing a house at a prime cost, and the points that give opportunities to buy houses are based on various standards. In a subscription out of 84 points, five additional points are significant. This becomes controversial because it is equivalent to the score when people have a five-year subscription deposit.

Necessary Steps to Keep the Pledges

01. For the Growth of Higher Education in Korea

Adopting suitable evaluation methods for each university puts importance on the scores of important major and general elective (GE) subjects, which can produce talented students who are specialized for each university. However, universities’ radical and independent decisions can bring fairness issues or break the balance between the university and the students, so it should be changed by gradually collecting the students’ opinions. Moreover, the establishment of departments and investments which focus only on the new industry may be criticized as discrimination against other schools and departments. Therefore, governmental support should not concentrate on only establishing new departments but also on increasing the number of related GE subjects and creating associated programs for all students. However, if majors are too corporate-oriented, the university will lose its meaning and may degenerate into a means for the corporation. Both universities and the government should recognize the importance of the humanities and other majors along with the development of new industries and try to develop all of them.

Giving Opportunities to Learn New Industry (news.sktelecom.com)

02. For Practical Help before and after Employment

Young Leap Base Camp aims to reduce the gap between the capital area. However, to prevent the current problem of all young people going to the capital area, it is essential to create jobs in the local area before education. To achieve economic growth through business-friendly policies, the dispersion of corporate headquarters into local regions can be a measure to revive the local economy. The government should increase the young employment rate nationwide by actively supporting companies in local areas. In addition, job training or education for the young should be strengthened, especially in new industries. Government should provide opportunities for education related to new industries for free at community centers or online sites. For the loan and account system, the Repayment Loan System will be helpful to young people before employment in various ways, such as finding a place to live and living expenses. Meanwhile, the Young Leap Account would worsen the polarization between before and after employment. To prevent this problem, it is also necessary to support the opening of saving accounts for people before careers.

03. Taking Cautionary Steps for Owning Houses

Prime Cost Houses may be seen as reverse discrimination against middle-aged and senior homeless people, which may lead to a conflict between generations. Therefore, it needs to compensate the older generation who can feel relative deprivation first, even if the policy is not the same for the young. Furthermore, preventing abuse and speculation for marginal profit is also needed. The government should frequently check whether young people actually live in the house and avoid speculation by making specific laws. Regarding the additional points system for military service in housing subscription, the government should create additional standards like this military service or reduce the degree of benefits by up to three points to prevent controversies. Lastly, the high rate of the LTV can save many young people looking to buy, but it is necessary to inform them that excessively high loan limits can be toxic at a young age. As the houses can be easily purchased with a small amount of capital, the process of recognizing that the amount to repay will increase and
educating the significance of debt should be preceded.

A new government has been launched, and new and different pledges were made. It is unknown how many of these pledges will be put into practice, but the pledges for the young in Korea must be kept as these are the people that will lead the country in the future. Eventually, all members of society should be interested in the government’s progress in confirming these pledges to move into action.

양희태  yht0648@g.skku.edu

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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