March 23, 2009

South Korea aims to help middle class

South Korea's Presidential Council on Future and Vision said an initiative called the Human New Deal is aimed at supporting the country's middle class.

The government "¦ believes a country with a strong middle class can overcome the economic crisis at an early date and secure an advantageous basis for a leap after the crisis, the council said in a statement, Yonhap News Agency reported Monday.

It is important to bring people out of poverty, President Lee Myung-bak said.

He called the failing middle class during the current financial crisis was an unprecedented phenomenon.

"Considering the need to significantly reduce the money spent on private education that currently places huge financial burdens on households, the government decided to work toward an education system where private education is no longer needed,'' said Kwak Seung-joon, chairman of the council, The Korea Times reported.

The Korea Development Institute said those earning 50 percent to 150 percent of the country's average income fell from 68.5 percent in 1996 to 54.5 percent in 2006.

Falling incomes and a lack of jobs has turned the fortunes of the middle class around, the institute said.