Park Govt Floundering Amid Pledge to Increase Welfare Benefits

When President Park Geun-hye was elected, one of her campaign pledges was to increase welfare benefits for the elderly and young without raising taxes. However, the Park administration has struggled with making this promise a reality. Government officials and citizens alike are questioning whether it is fiscally possible and responsible to increase welfare benefits, or even to maintain them at their current level without increasing taxes as well. The following two articles offer two perspectives on the issue in question.

Article from Newsis:

President Park on Conflict Over ‘Welfare Benefits without Increasing Taxes,’ Says “Aims to Do it Without Burdening Citizens”

korean government welfare benefits tax increase

On Feb. 6, President Park said in her keynote on ‘welfare without increasing taxes,’ “Right now, the topic of taxes is coming up, but our goal is to revitalize the economy, and increase the number of jobs available, which will benefit not just young people, but also increase tax revenue. Our aim is to provide these welfare benefits without burdening the citizens.”

Blue House spokesperson Min Kyung-uk said President Park said this on the morning of Feb. 6, after presiding over a meeting at the Blue House of the Presidential Committee on Aging Society and Population Policy on ‘creating favorable conditions for marriage.’

This was the first time President Park had made this kind of statement targeted towards the aggressive questioning by Saenuridang representative Kim Mu-seong and newly appointed floor leader Yoo Seung-min in the politics sphere over the “welfare benefits without tax increases” controversy.

Although she explained the aim of no tax increase welfare benefits without offering a concrete opinion, the priority is to increase tax revenue through economic revitalization. But if welfare funds are inadequate, then it will be in the right order to increase taxes, and reexamine their current stance on the issue.

President Park also brought up the issue of young people who are hesitant to get married because of the housing issue, and afterwards said, “The government sees welfare benefits as a precious investment in the future.”

Thus, “If we help even a little, they can get a job, so helping people who are tied down by a lot of things, and can’t even dream of getting a job is an investment in the future.” She also emphasized, “We see daycare as a precious investment in the future.”

In the politics sphere, the discussion of restructuring welfare benefits and the related free daycare is portrayed as a level of investment to prepare for the future that they will never back down from.

Comments from Naver:


Don’t raise taxes, and don’t give welfare!! What do you mean, raising taxes, and giving welfare? Please do something that actually reflects the state of the country. Do you think we’re a developed country? What a bird-brained bitch[referring to President Park Geun-hye].


keke Funny how they switch their words.


Do we have to listen to Korean speech until the last word after all…”Welfare benefits without increasing taxes”…was all we heard…but after that…”The aim is to try without burdening the citizens…if it doesn’t work out, we will increase taxes” is the hidden connotation.


What are they saying…I don’t get it.


President Park: “So that’s why I have to do the job.” kekekeke [Note: This is what President Park said in the presidential TV debate.]


What achievements does the Park Geun-hye administration have?


Do you know the meaning of the words you’re saying?


Wow, watch how she changes her words, keke But Ms. Chicken, why are you increasing our taxes?


There are so many thieves in our country’s government.


Sigh I really want to test their intelligence level.

Article from KBS:

“‘Decreasing Welfare Benefits vs Increasing Taxes’…Need Citizens’ Agreement

Korean President Park Geun-hye welfare benefits tax increase

The core of a recent conflict lies in whether the government should decrease welfare benefits, or increase taxes.

This is because the current government’s pledge to offer welfare benefits without increasing taxes is running into limitations everywhere.

Reporter Kim Jin-hwi has more.

This is the government’s pledged budget from two years ago.

Expand free daycare for infants, adopt a basic pension plan for the elderly, reduce college tuition by half the amount…

It would cost 100 trillion won for five years to fulfill all these welfare pledges.

The government said if they unearth their hidden sources of tax revenue, and get rid of unnecessary government spending, they would have the ability to fulfill their promise to provide welfare without increasing taxes.

However, local governments said one after the other that they cannot handle welfare funds.

The most important problem is that the government is not increasing tax revenue to a level consistent with their plan.

The plan to legalize the underground economy and obtain 27 trillion won was met with stiff opposition from independent businessmen, and the plan to increase tax revenue by 18 trillion by decreasing tax free benefits and tax exemptions caused problems with “year-end tax adjustments.”

They also were not able to decrease annual expenditures.

This year, the social overhead capital budget was supposed to decrease by 2 trillion 7 billion won, and will instead increased by 1 trillion 1 billion won.

In this kind of situation, to maintain the current welfare level without raising taxes, government debt will nearly quadruple in fifteen years.

Whether to pay more taxes, and receive more welfare benefits, or continue paying the same amount of taxes, and receive less benefits is something the citizens will need to discuss.

Statistics from Realmeter. In response to the question  "Should the government increase taxes, or decrease welfare benefits?" 34.5% of survey respondents said the government should increase taxes, 46.8% said the government should decrease welfare benefits instead of increasing taxes, and 18.7% don't know.

Statistics from Realmeter. In response to the question “Should the government increase taxes, or decrease welfare benefits?” 34.5% of survey respondents said the government should increase taxes, 46.8% said the government should decrease welfare benefits instead of increasing taxes, and 18.7% don’t know.

Comments from Naver:


Decreasing the benefits of National Assembly members vs Increasing National Assembly member’s taxes


Wait keke there is no welfare, you empty-headed chicken!!!!


I’m at a loss for words keke


You empty-headed chicken! There is no welfare!!!!


We should adopt a system similar to the US, where if you can’t keep your pledges, you can be impeached.


———————————The United States Congress Members: 435+100=535———————–Korean National Assembly Members: 299 People. Don’t raise taxes, and cut the number of members in the national assembly in half…In the US, there are only 535 members, so why does Korea need 300 members…We’re wasting our tax money.


The answer is to impeach her.


When do we get to elect a new president?


Increasing cigarette prices doesn’t account for tax increases?


I guess the government came to an agreement with the citizens on things like cigarette prices and electricity bills before increasing them, right? ^^ [sarcastic tone] ke There is nothing new about this…Why don’t you seek agreement with the citizens on the Kim Young-ran law? People will agree nearly unanimously. The more I know about society, the darker and more desolate it seems…

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  • ShootehAnon

    Did they really fall for such a stupid promise? Welfare benefits don’t just appear from thin air.

  • bigmamat

    I often wonder how much more the Koreans can mimic the US. They certainly seem to have embraced some of our worst tendencies.

    • chucky3176

      Are we the only ones who notice that South Korea is the only country in Asia at this moment, that’s even debating about this welfare issue?

      • bigmamat

        I don’t know. I don’t follow the others much a little on China and Japan of course but as for SEA countries I haven’t got a clue.

        • chucky3176

          I’ve never seen such issues appearing in other sister sites like Chinasmack, Japancrush, Indoboom, etc… I’m presuming that is an uniquely South Korea issue in Asia.

          • bigmamat

            Well China I wouldn’t expect. They have a long history of just letting their people die. Japan may already have some form of “welfare” or “social security” for all I know.

          • chucky3176

            China, I can understand. And in some ways, I can also understand why this wouldn’t be an issue in South East Asia.

            For Japan, Japan do have huge welfare and social security budgets. But that country is a perfect utopian society with no social problems or issues. The biggest problem for them is deciding who’s the most cutest anime character currently.

          • bigmamat

            I disagree. Japan has the same low birth rate problem. They also have a similar corporate culture to the point that the government is playing around with the idea of forcing people to take vacation. lol Japan has social, political and economic issues the same a Korea. You just aren’t focused on Japan.

          • chucky3176

            Sarcasm sometimes gets lost online.

            You know.. I’ve rethought about this. Raising taxes drastically and also raising social services drastically and comparatively at the same time, may not be such a bad ideal after all. The taxes should be increased exponentially for those who earn more. I think this, coupled with the safety net of better social welfare, Koreans may find themselves that it’s not worth it any longer to work so long and hard. If taxes eat up most of their earnings, then the workers would want to work less, enjoy more of their free time with their families instead, knowing that if they get into economic trouble, the social welfare payouts will kick in. Since there won’t be any point of getting a high paying job (most of the earnings will go to the state anyway), there will also won’t be any point in trying to get into the top universities in anticipation of getting jobs with top salaries. With the education zeal dead, many private tutoring classes will also go out of business – freeing Korean parents from doling out 30% of their monthly income. This will in turn will create a new service based economy since there will be more people with more free time to enjoy, with the burden of paying for education costs, gone forever. A new society with a culture of relaxation and free time will arise.

            Of course the danger of this is that South Korea’s economic competitiveness could suffer, with industries and companies fleeing high taxes in search of lower cost countries. And Korean businesses failing due to high costs and startups not starting because of high taxes. On the other hand, if the government give tax breaks to entrepreneurs, there could be more businesses with more creative ideals – a different type of businesses, rather then just focusing on manufacturing.

            I think this is perfect. In no time, South Korea will either look like America, or Norway, depending how this turns out, and depending how South Korea creates policies that matches the country’s current state.

          • FYIADragoon

            That would be ideal if you could get the tax brackets right, but seeing how South Korea has a bit of a plutocracy going on, I highly doubt that they would push anything through that could affect anyone but the common citizens.

          • bigmamat

            You’re talking about progressive taxes which helped build the American middle class. Don’t know how everyone in Korea thinks they can all reach that goal without a little social and economic jiggering. We Americans forgot it quickly enough and fell down the rabbit hole of “free market” ideology so long ago I don’t think it can be fixed. We’ve become a nations of “haves” “have nots” and barely hanging on because of it. Nations have to decide if they want all of their citizens to be prosperous and healthy or if they want to decide based on birth and connections. That’s just the way I see it.

          • kari

            Typical conservative hyperbole. “Oh noez, raising taxes by 5% in the wealthiest means no one will want to work anymore! Instead of being a doctor and earning $200,000 a year, you could sit on your ass collecting a whopping $300 a month in welfare and sleep on the floor in some crack house with no running water or heat. What a deal!”

          • AbC

            Japan “a perfect utopian society with no social problems or issues”
            You must be delusional…

          • Boris

            He was being sarcastic. IF you know about Chucky, you would know he has a strong dislike for Japan.

  • chucky3176

    Koreans haven’t been paying attention to the same debate that has been going on forever in the western developed nations. All they saw was the benefits and payouts that Western Europeans enjoyed, and thought that it all dropped down from the blue sky magically, as they do in the fable stories of streets paved with gold, exotic lands of the rich western Europeans. Koreans who advocated for European style welfare state, failed to point out some of these countries pay up to 65% of their income to the government in the form of taxes. Compare that to not even 20% that many South Koreans enjoy at the moment. That is if they even pay that amount, since many Koreans dodge the taxes by paying/accepting cash, so that the tax office can’t trace the taxes they owe. South Korea’s underground economy is about 23% of the size of the entire legal economy – making South Korea’s economy much larger in size than it really is, and the size of underground economy is above 10% of the OECD average.

    Now that the issue of funding all these programs appear clearer, nobody wants to pay for them out of their own pockets. Let others do it, is the philosophy.

  • FYIADragoon

    These idiots elected her. Its stupid that they’re now whining about her acting like this. It was obvious what kind of person she was from the beginning and they did have a better choice in this past election. It’s not like America’s 2012 choice between crap and slightly less smelly crap.

    • LL

      To be fair to her though, the other party was even worse, when they promised to increase even more welfare programs, all without raising any taxes.

  • faves_slayer

    Am i the only one that gets some kind of message box in korean from naver when i enter on this article?

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    “Hey remember that promise I made to get elected? Uh….just kidding! There’s uh…a problem with the money. In that there isn’t any…”

  • bumfromkorea

    They voted for them (Saenuri) how many times in a row? They’re your mess now, Korea. If you’re dumb enough to fall for the “election season egalitarianism” this many times, maybe you deserve to be screwed over and over and over by these ex-dictatorship fogeys still sucking PCH’s surely-now-decomposed cock. Don’t like it? I’ll say the exact same thing I’d say to the Japanese voters voting for the Tenno Heika Banzai squads – quit fucking voting for them.

    Brace for McCarthyist retards whining about the leftist zombies and North Korean sympathizers. If the Korean voters are dumb enough fall for that one too, then they DEFINITELY deserve a PM who had a recorded evidence of media suppression and promoting corruption.

  • commander

    Increasing tax is an imperative for the nation when we want to jump start the sagging economy and get wealth concentrated in a few hands distributed to the working class and the less fortunate.

    President Park has endeavored in vain to translate her election pledge of broader welfare benefits into action because of lack of money.

    Although it is praiseworthy that the president is treasuring her promise to the electorate, she do well to recognize the cold reality that absent increased tax, her uncompromising stance to make her pledge materialized could stir up troubles and unnecessary political confrontations between parties.

    She need to get her national agenda reorganized more than halfway through her presidential term.

  • Small twon

    Worst president ever Korea elected,biggest problem is younger generation(most of 20s-early 40s) didn’t vote for her but old and bitter elders elected her because they take ‘pity’ of her sorry personal life (which is understandable but her family is very wealthy by being her assassinated daddy was a dictator) and they thought she would take ‘right’ action to North Korea.
    Look what she is doing.

    1.She raises tax,

    2.her cronies are running wild doing gods know what and getting arrested too quickly to the point they have hard time to find replacement among her followers!

    3.youth of nation is losing hope for the future
    and her solution is…get more immigration workers !

    4.she successfully alienated China,Japan,America,Russia
    (seriously how she manage that…I have no idea)

    5.She is doing her best to arrest anybody who blaming her,which throw out of the court often but that little reality doesn’t stop her.

    Finally, she is losing her ancient fanatic fandom(thank you gods!) because …. she raised the bloody price of cigarette(which old generation can not live without).

    I am grateful for what Korean older generation did and forever in the debt of their sacrifice but they have to WAKE THE FUCK UP and realize 70s are over !

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