Korea's startup ecosystem is growing. Of that I am sure. What I am less sure of though is whether this growth is the result of government involvement, or in spite of it. As President Park finished off her first year at the helm of Korean politics she promised more money, but gave little indication as to how the money would be spent, and having worked closely with the government on several projects in 2013 I am not convinced that ever increasing volumes of cash being spent will serve to create the virtuous circle of entrepreneurship that serves to fuel innovation in Silicon Valley. Korea needs a small number of big exits to kick-start future success, not 100s of government funded startups.
"Unless we change the fundamentals of the economy and break from the trap of slow growth, there will be no future for us,"
Park said the plan -- announced on the day she completed her first year in office -- would deliver a potential economic growth rate of at least four percent by 2017.
"Our past... way of growth that made us one of the world's 10 largest economies has now reached its limit," Park said in a national televised speech.
Asia's fourth-largest economy faces a widening imbalance, with the export and manufacturing sector -- led by all-powerful conglomerates -- totally overshadowing the domestic consumer market and services industry, she said.
Park also highlighted the dangers posed by what she described as South Korea's "silent, looming disaster" -- its rapidly ageing population that threatens to slash the workforce and impose a heavy welfare cost.
According to the three-year plan, the government will spend four trillion won ($3.7 billion) by 2017 to help small start-ups and increase spending on research and development to the equivalent of five percent of GDP, from the current four percent.
One of the largest-circulation dailies, the Dong-A Ilbo, compared her economic team to "a student who is full of motivation but knows little about how to study and ends up being an underachiever".
About 15,000 people took part Tuesday in a union-led protest in central Seoul, slamming Park for failing to keep her campaign pledges to reduce social imbalances thrown up by rapid economic development.
They also accused the president of protecting the interests of the giant family-run conglomerates, or "chaebol", that dominate the economy.