Moon Jae-in began his second full year as South Korea's president with a reminder of what didn't work in the first — namely his economic policies.

The message came in an unusually blunt question from a local television reporter, who used Moon's New Year's news briefing Thursday to ask why he stuck with an agenda that appeared to be failing. The president dug in, saying he needed to better persuade South Koreans his policies were right, not change course.

"I've explained why we need our government's economic policy basis, and why it's impossible to have sustainable growth without changing the imbalanced structure of our polarized society," Moon said. "So, I don't think I need to reply with a new answer."