“The 7 million overseas Koreans are an asset
I’ll support them in various departments
including legal services, education, and welfare”
-How would you like to be known to the U.S.-based voters?
▶For a long time, I’ve contemplated ways for politics to affect our country positively. I’ve always been in politics with my utmost sincerity and that is the foundation of my belief as I’m running for president in the election. The current struggles our country is facing with public security, economic downturn and others are not something that can be solved if politicians continue to fight for power and their own image. The current crisis is more serious than ever before and we need a leader with honesty to solve problems like those.
I’d like to say that I am a presidential candidate with bravery, ability, and principles who can make core changes with objectivity.
-What is your awareness of the overseas Koreans?
▶Overseas Koreans have the willingness to create and challenge. I am very much aware of the affection they have for their country. I’m also very proud to be working with citizens who love their country. The 7 million overseas Koreans around the world are a big asset to our country. We need a clearer awareness of their importance back home and expand the relationship we have with them. I’d like to make Korea become a country that our overseas citizens can be proud of.
-What are your plans to secure the rights of overseas Koreans?
▶The priority for us is to create an environment in which Koreans are not discriminated against when they are in foreign countries. There have been many cases in the past when one of our citizens was involved in a criminal case or have been arrested by the police in a foreign country, they were not treated sufficiently. I’m going to create functions on our end to make sure that our citizens abroad are protected.
-What are your plans on establishing the Overseas Koreans Center?
▶There are currently 7.2 million overseas Koreans outside of our country. There have been talks in the past to support them in various departments, including international relations, legal services, education, culture, employment, military and tax. I believe that such talks show that the customer satisfaction at the consulate offices in many foreign cities around the world for Korean citizens has not been up to the standards. I’m going to diagnose why and how much such services have lacked and come up with ways to bridge the gap.
-Do you plan on allowing dual citizenship?
▶Currently, dual citizenship is not allowed with an exception of a few cases. This is something that is directly related to the general consensus among the Korean people as well as tax, talent exodus and political rights, so a careful consideration is definitely necessary. However, there is a need to expand the opportunities for overseas Koreans to contribute to our country from within by receiving equal treatment as the native Koreans.
-Do you have plans to encourage more Koreans to live in foreign countries?
▶As the fourth industrial revolution nears, I’d like to approach the issue of Koreans starting a new chapter of their lives in foreign countries as an innovation. An opportunity to learn and work, while experiencing a new way of life must be constructed carefully by policymakers.
It is important to remove discrepancies in our administrative services, while preparing a platform for everyone to have a healthy flow of economic and social, cultural exchanges are important so that our immigrant communities around the world settle properly.
-What are your plans for overseas Koreans who are considering returning to Korea?
▶I will strengthen the administrative services to welcome overseas Koreans who hope to move back to their motherland. It is my duty to ensure that the discomfort of settling in Korea is as limited as possible for them, as well as preparing consultation for them to utilize their experiences overseas as they get used to life back in Korea.
-Overseas Koreans can visit North Korea relatively freely. It seems as though they can bridge the gap between the two Koreas. What are your thoughts?
▶A peaceful relationship between the two Koreas is important, but North Korea is insisting on developing their nuclear program and missiles, which stand at odds with South Korea. Unless this issue is properly solved, the danger of North Korea will only grow, while South Korea’s public security will continue to be threatened. I’m going to continue to pressure North Korea to lead them to concede their nuclear program and create an environment that will leave them helplessly give up their nuclear weapons.
I hope the overseas Koreans will support my viewpoint so that we can restore security and peace on the Korean peninsula.
-Do you have a policy that you would like to introduce to the Korean citizens overseas?
▶ I’ll strengthen our diplomacy to support our capacity in international relations and contribute to growing the awareness of our people on our country’s safety. I’ll also expand our network with the generation of United Nations’ veterans from the war in our country and their families and prepare an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War in 2020. I’ll also host a variety of events for the Korean War veterans and create programs to support the families of victims from the Korean War as well.
I’m also going to consider establishing the Korean War veterans’ network from the U.S. and make sure that we keep a close relationship with countries that the Korean soldiers have been active in, including Iraq, Somalia and Timor-Leste.
I’m also going to strengthen the welfare for our senior citizens. They’ve completed the obligations for their country by serving in the military and paying taxes. They’ve shed their blood on the battlefield and sweat in their respective workplaces.
However, I was told that about 1.7 senior citizens are still living in poor conditions due to our inadequate welfare policies. They collect cardboard paper to raise money. A 1 kg worth of paper is only worth 70 to 80 won (70 to 80 cents). That means selling 100 kg in a day would only give them 7,000 to 8,000 won a day and 200,000 won a month. There are senior citizens who are on the streets looking for coins. I’m going to fix this sort of lives for our senior citizens.
By Wonyoung Lee