South Korean economy: In course change, struggling Park turns to chaebol

South Korean economy: In course change, struggling Park turns to chaebol

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun-hye has uttered the word "economy" more than 17,000 times in her speeches and statements during the past three years of her presidency.

According to an analysis the office of the president released on Tuesday, the number was far more frequent than other key words, such as "unification" and "security." This may indicate her determination to improve the country's economy, but it may also reflect her annoyance at failing to achieve her agenda. Park entered her fourth year as president on Thursday.

In January, South Korea posted its 13th consecutive month of year-on-year declines in exports. The economy's real growth rate in 2015 stood at 2.6 per cent, failing to meet a potential rate of growth. This is far from "the second Miracle on the Han River" she promised to voters when she won the presidential seat three years ago.

At the start of her term, Park believed she would be able to grow the country's economy by promoting small to medium-sized companies and startups, as well as domestic-demand-oriented businesses. She knew that the economy could be fragile if it depended heavily on a small number of conglomerates, like Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor, known as chaebol.

She advocated for a "economy democratization" where she would enhance controls on large businesses to achieve a fair and balanced structure of the country's economy. She also did this in consideration of the country's citizens, who often complain about widening gaps in incomes and wrongdoing by chaebol.

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