By Na Jeong-ju
President Lee Myung-bak unveiled a plan Tuesday to create an index that can measure people's happiness and quality of life, saying policymakers should place top priority on making individuals happy.
``Happiness and quality of life should be a barometer for social development,'' Lee said during the opening ceremony for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Forum in Busan.
``The administration will develop an index to evaluate the level of people's happiness and quality of life and activate more public welfare programs. They are crucial for Korea to become an advanced nation.''
Some 2,000 people from more than 100 countries, including Slovenia's President Danilo Turk and the secretary-general of the OECD, Jose Angel Gurria, attended the forum, which will continue through Friday.
The latest OECD Happiness Index measuring health, environment, social solidarity and economic activity showed Korea ranked 25th out of 30 member nations.
Only Poland, Slovakia, Mexico, Hungary and Turkey were behind Korea in the standings, while Japan ranked highest among Asian countries in 11th place.
``We will focus on improving the quality of life for individuals by developing optimum policies on education, residence, employment and social security,'' President Lee said.
Lee also reaffirmed his pledges to advocate the interests of emerging economies in global forums, saying the existing paradigm of economic development was no longer effective in resolving global issues.
South Korea will actively participate in international efforts to establish a new world order reflecting the interests of emerging countries, he said.
``Through the global economic crisis, we have seen the limits of the current development paradigm. Fortunately, the world is fast overcoming the crisis thanks to the creation of the G20 Summit that includes advanced and developing economies,'' Lee said.
South Korea will host the fifth G20 meeting in November next year.
``With its own development experience, Korea will continue to contribute to developing a new growth model that can benefit not only advanced countries but also developing nations,'' he said.