South Korean President Moon Jae-in has big plans, but old thinking and risk aversion could scupper them. Image: AFP

As President Moon Jae-in steps up efforts in Seoul to revive South Korea's economy, all roads are leading to Tokyo. And not in a good way.

It’s grand to see Moon redoubling efforts to implement a “New Deal” for a long-neglected economy. Neglected, in the sense that Moon, in office since 2017, is the fourth South Korean leader in 17 years to telegraph a structural reform “Big Bang.”

Before Moon, Park Geun-hye, the president from 2013 to 2017, promised to “democratize” growth. By the time she left, little had changed at the top end of the economy – albeit, she kick-started a “creative economy” paradigm which has now come of age under a fortunate Moon, as witnessed by the currently vibrant startup and unicorn scene.