President emphasizes innovation in medical, education sectors

President Park Geun-hye stressed the need to develop the service industry and the overall social service structure during a National Economic Advisory Council meeting held in Seoul on November 28. 

"The service industry can have a bigger effect on the economy than the manufacturing industry. By combining both services and manufacturing, we can create more added value and achieve better rates of growth," said President Park. "The convergence of these industries, the core concept behind developing a creative economy, could achieve even further development through deregulation of the service industry," said the president. She mentioned the case of smartphones as an example of this effect because smartphones create new added value by combining culture, entertainment, media, social networks and existing mobile communication equipment. To advance the service industry, specifically targeting overseas markets, the president added that Korea’s service industry first needs to make practical approaches toward having more innovation. 

During the economic advisory council meeting, the Korea Development Institute (KDI) announced its policy proposals for a “Northeast Asia Hub Strategy.” This economic strategy calls for the improvement of the service industry and the deregulation of the medical and education service sectors. 

According to the state-funded institute's strategy, the Korean government needs to ease requirements on establishing foreign hospitals in free economic zones (FEZ) and adopt the same requirements to build a foreign hospital as currently exist in Jeju-do (Jeju Island). The KDI recommended that the government needs to allow foreign hospitals in Korea to be able to accept more non-Korean patients. Currently, there is a limit that only five percent of inpatients are allowed to be non-Korean. The KDI also urged the government to lift the limits on hiring non-Korean medical staff at both domestic and non-Korean hospitals in Korea. The institute suggested that Korea should extend support for training programs for expat doctors. It also said that new insurance goods should be introduced so that more people could use insurance products from both global insurance companies and Korean medical organizations. 

To attract renowned foreign universities and overseas students, the KDI emphasized in the report the need to improve structural conditions. The institute proposed that policymakers allow the establishment of joint corporations between Korean and foreign universities. It also asked the government to allow foreign schools and colleges to set up joint corporations in the FEZs and to allow them to transfer any operational surplus to their home country. 

The report also contained development proposals to build multiple resort complexes to develop casino and the MICE industries: meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. To extend foreign firms’ participation here and to attract more investment, the KDI urged the government to ease the credit rating assessment process for foreign investors by considering their overall financial position as well as their personal credibility. The Korean government will review such proposals and take an official stance in this regard at the next trade and investment promotion council meeting scheduled to take place this December. 

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