The Korea Herald


Yoon calls for swift launch of space agency

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : July 5, 2023 - 15:17

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President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the inaugural World Congress of Korean Scientists and Engineers in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the inaugural World Congress of Korean Scientists and Engineers in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday expressed his disappointment at the delayed legislative process to establish a national space agency, emphasizing the agency's timely formation as vital for facilitating international collaborations.

At the inaugural World Congress of Korean Scientists and Engineers, Yoon said stagnant progress in the legislative process for the establishment of the Korea AeroSpace Administration is negatively affecting a space collaboration deal between South Korea and the US forged during his April visit to Washington.

Under the deal, Korea's planned agency is to lead collaboration with American counterpart NASA.

"It's unfortunate that the opposition party's lack of cooperation has stalled the discussion of the establishment bill for KASA, the agency slated to lead this initiative, since its submission to the National Assembly in April," he said.

Yoon expressed hope that the bill would be passed swiftly, aiming for KASA's establishment within the year, so that "our youth can pursue their dreams alongside world-class research institutions."

In March, the government announced a special law to establish the space agency, a pledge from Yoon's election campaign aimed at emulating NASA.

The passage of the bill to launch the agency has been put on the back burner at the National Assembly as rival parties have locked horns over the appointment of Lee Dong-kwan, Yoon's special adviser for external relations, as the next chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, as well as Japan's Fukushima water discharge.

Noting that the government's research and development budget surpassed 30 trillion won ($23 billion) this year, Yoon emphasized that national R&D investment should not be “haphazard or parceled out” by interest groups, but rather, channeled into world-class research.

Yoon also conveyed his appreciation to the scientists and engineers, attributing Korea's leap into an advanced science and technology nation to their spirit of challenge and innovative capabilities.

He said it is the nation's duty to “thoroughly back” the development of technologies capable of achieving global excellence and to “actively promote” international cooperation on research that can transform people's lives.

Yoon pledged to actively support young scientists in their research endeavors, enabling them to engage with and challenge the world's top researchers at prestigious institutions.