There are many doubts about the other promises of the two candidates about their ability to lead the post-pandemic economy in the direction of sustainable growth. Lee said 135 trillion won will be invested in digital transition to create two million jobs and raise South Korea’s average national income to more than US$50,000. However, it is not easy to make a growth engine work for the South Korean economy, which is already an advanced country, with government-led investments to help development. Meanwhile, Yoon said a specialized institution would be established to reform regulations to create good jobs. However, without a specific methodology, such as the US “two-for-one” rule of removing two regulations when introducing one, it may remain a catchphrase, as it was for previous administrations.
Lee also included basic income for all citizens as one of his promises. According to his pledge, 12.9 trillion won will be needed next year to provide 250,000 won per person, and 51.6 trillion won per year will be needed to raise it to 1 million won per person during his tenure. If his funding projects, such as the national property tax, run into trouble, only the national debt will skyrocket. One of Yoon’s 10 promises is a real estate supply plan, which includes providing 300,000 homes to young people at cost price. Since they will be cheaper than market prices, not only will trillions of budget won be required, but it will also be difficult to obtain so much land in Seoul and neighboring areas.
What is more problematic is that the candidates’ pledges do not show deep consideration of the challenges facing the South Korean economy. From May, one of them will have to deal with the economic recession due to global inflation and rising interest rates, the “twin losses” of the financial and trade balance and the question of a sovereign rating due to excessive public debt. Then it will be revealed how unrealistic their dazzling promises are.