When President Park Geun-hye introduced her creative economy policy during the election campaign late last year, most people were bewildered by the relatively new concept. The policy’s key points included promoting convergent IT and software technologies, scientific discoveries and technology integrating with cultural content for sustainable economic growth.
“We must lead Korea’s mid- to long-term growth based on knowledge (in science and technology),” Park said when announcing her plan to create the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the control tower for the president’s creative economy initiative.
The emphasis on science and technology in the key economic policies of Korean presidents is nothing new, but science and technology or even technological convergence had been overlooked by the former administration of Lee Myung-bak, whose knowledge economy efforts were focused more on facilitating a business-friendly environment for conglomerates.
The concept of a creative economy was just as confusing as a knowledge economy, or even Park’s economic democratization pledge.
South Korea will sharply increase its investment in science and technology setting a 92.4 trillion won ($80 billion) budget to finance research and development projects in new growth sectors by 2017, the government announced on Monday. The plan represents a more-than 30 percent increase from the previous Lee Myung-bak administration’s five-year budget of 68 trillion won.
As part of the five-year science and technology development project, the budget will be allocated to enhancing agricultural and medical technology as well as supporting basic science research. The government said it believed the investment would help elevate the level of science and technology research and help create some 640,000 new jobs.
The term “creative economy” puzzled many when President Park Guen-hye was inaugurated in February and declared it as her administration’s economic paradigm. By June, the government came up with its own definition — “combining creative ideas with science and information and communications technology (ICT) to help create new businesses, markets and industries and to generate more jobs.”
Along with the definition, the government announced six strategies. Starting a business will become easier, with proper rewards for creative ideas. Small and medium enterprises will play a lead role in an economy that large conglomerates or chaebol have traditionally dominated.
The government also plans to encourage the integration of science and ITC into existing industries to add value and competitiveness. It also wants to educate students to foster creativity and entrepreneurship, and plans to invest more in science and ICT. The last strategy is to create a culture where good ideas are freely communicated and brought to reality.
Although the government has laid out somewhat specific goals and detailed plans to achieve them, the public is still learning to understand what a creative economy is, while foreigners remain largely confused. The Korea Times’ Business Focus talked to foreign experts to hear their perception of a creative economy and the most important ways to achieve it. The four interviewees visited Korea in June to participate in the Global Industry and Economy Forum 2013, which the state-run Korea Development Institute and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance organized.
South Korea’s ministry in charge of science, information and technology said Thursday that it will create jobs by fostering an environment for business start-ups and bringing the country’s scientific research close to a world-class level.
In a briefing on 2013 policy plans to President Park Geun-hye, the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning said it will launch a government-wide project under which social issues such as food safety and environmental accidents could be resolved through scientific technology. “In order to create an environment for business start-ups, the ministry will extend support and strengthen policy coordination with related agencies,” the ministry said. “The ministry will launch a project to create 10 new industries by 2017 through combination of science, ICT and culture.”
Under the ministry’s plan, a total of 408,000 new jobs will be created by 2017, about 90,000 of which are to come from business start-ups.
Chinese products have been shedding their image of being cheaply made with poor technology. China has already outpaced South Korea in terms of science and technology, which determine the overall quality of products manufactured in a nation, according to an analysis by a local think tank.
“China has rapidly gained scientific technological competitiveness enough to overwhelm Korea in absolute terms,” said a researcher at Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) in the report released Sunday. China’s investment in research and development (R&D) totaled $104.3 billion in 2010, triple that of Korea ($38.0 billion). China’s investment in R&D has soared 24 percent on average per year, a pace three times faster than that of Korea.
China submitted 390,000 patent applications, twice 170,000 applications of Korea, and academic papers listed on the Science Citation Index (SCI) numbered 140,000 articles, four times 40,000 of Korea. China had a total of 1.21 million researchers, fivefold 260,000 of Korea.
A new super-ministry on science and information technology is expected to grow larger with two vice ministers and by taking over almost all functions related to research, policy, industry and high education in the fields scattered among various government organizations.
The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry will hand over all of its trade negotiation roles to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, to be renamed Industry, Trade and Resources Ministry, despite its protest. These and other follow-up measures to President-elect Park Geun-hye’s government reorganization plans were announced Tuesday.
“The plans reflect the governing philosophy and existing problems felt by President-elect Park Geun-hye through her long years of state affairs experience and National Assembly activities. We believe this government reorganization will create an effectively working government through well-distributed functions,” said Chin Young, vice chairman of the transition committee.
Park had unveiled last week the revamp plans which aim for a bigger government with 17 ministries, three lower-level ministries and 17 agencies under the banner of an efficient Cabinet to promote innovation-based growth.
The South Korean government will spend nearly 2.2 trillion won ($2.08 billion) on research and development (R&D) activities this year, with a nearly half of its entire budget earmarked for basic science, the government said Monday. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) will spend a total of 2.19 trillion won on R&D this year, up 6.4 percent from 2012. Of these, 993.1 billion won will be spent on the development of basic science with another 469.1 billion won earmarked for the development of new, indigenous technologies.
The government will also spend some 266.2 billion won on its nuclear power research program, 202.3 billion won on research of nuclear fusion and accelerator, 167.3 billion won on space development and 93.5 billion won on global introduction of its science and technologies. The money earmarked for the development of basic science increased 1.9 percent from a year ago.
President-elect Park Geun-hye is looking to enhance the country’s science and technology competitiveness with the establishment of a powerful new ministry that will oversee research and development policies and industrialization of innovations. But it seems Park is already facing a major obstacle with the delay of a project to build a mega science and business complex that promised to house world-class basic science research organizations and related business facilities.
The government is planning to complete the International Science and Business Belt by 2017 in a 3.6-square-kilometer area of Daejeon. To make the mega project more prosperous, the government is also planning to bring in some 500 foreign experts by the end of 2017.
The plan, however, faces an uncertain future due to political wrangling among the central and local governments and ruling and opposition parties. The National Assembly failed to allocate the budget for the project as the central government and Daejeon city differed over how to share the expenditures. The government pledged to invest a total of $4.9 billion into the complex, calling on the Daejeon Metropolitan Government to pay its half of the bill. But the city refused the demand, claiming it was a national-level project.
President-elect Park Geun-hye plans to create a super-ministry in charge of science, information and communications as the incoming leader seeks to promote innovation-based growth, the presidential transition committee announced Tuesday. Park will also revive the post of deputy prime minister of economy, to be taken on by the minister of strategy and finance, as the top control tower for coordinating economic policies.
A new ministry of maritime affairs and fisheries will be reestablished while the trade section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be merged into the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the transition committee said. “The reorganization reflects President-elect Park Geun-hye’s policy philosophy and resolve for public safety and economic revival to usher in an era of people’s happiness,” Kim Yong-joon, committee chairman, said at a press conference.
The bill on the restructuring will be submitted to the National Assembly during its extraordinary session on Feb. 24, officials said.
The three major presidential candidates may differ on key policies but all believe that Korea’s future depends on science and technology for growth. Their policies in the field converge in many aspects, including plans to revive the ministry for science and technology, as well as increasing support for research and innovation.
The Saenuri Party’s Park Geun-hye has the most extensive agenda. An engineering graduate, she prioritizes developing the software industry, supporting start-ups and establishing the Creative Science Ministry. “We must lead Korea’s mid- to long-term growth based on knowledge (of science and technology),” she said on Oct. 17 when announcing the camp’s science and technology policy in Yeouido.
The Democratic United Party’s Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, suggested reviving the late President Roh Moo-hyun’s science policy with the potential science minister also holding the title of deputy prime minister. Roh had set up a science innovation unit under the wing of the science ministry. “Without science and technology development, there would also be no job creation,” Moon told the science community last month.