Moon’s landing

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Moon’s landing

President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating slipped below 60 percent in just two weeks after staying above 70 percent ever since taking office in May of last year.

The Blue House was chagrined by the sudden dip in public evaluation, especially to see that people in their 20s and 30s, who had been the driving force to put Moon in office, were part of the trend.

The young hardened against the hugely popular president for his administration’s tough stance on cryptocurrency trade and for sacrificing the national women’s ice hockey team to form a joint team with North Korea during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics without seeking the players’ approval.

Moon brought senior aides and government officials to the Blue House and demanded “radical” action to create jobs for the young. Youth unemployment hit 9.9 percent in December, a level unseen since 2000.

Moreover, the president cannot afford to lose the confidence of young voters who have turned cynical regarding his promise to deliver fair and communicative governance and be different from past presidents. Still, Moon’s score is not that bad, keeping at 59.8 percent in his second year, though it has sunk from a starting point of 84.1 percent.

But what concerns the Blue House is that the downward spiral took place in just the last two weeks. Also, the fall has taken place among all age groups, in all areas and among people of all ideological preferences.

Moon’s approval rating has been in line with the ratio of people favoring the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. The rating slipped below 70 percent from the third week of January, indicating some people who supported Park’s removal began to lose confidence in Moon. The dip was most conspicuous among voters with no party preference, falling as much as 13.8 percentage points to 36.7 percent.

The cause is not difficult to find. The administration has been stumbling on the domestic and foreign fronts. It was forceful on public-related policies, hiking the minimum wage, stomping all over the cryptocurrency market and banning English classes in preschool establishments without conferring with experts or public opinion.

It upset the public by forcing the formation of a joint ice hockey team just ahead of the Games and overly pampering the North Korean delegation to the point that it drew sneers that the PyeongChang Olympics are turning into the Pyongyang Olympics.

Yet it said nothing about Pyongyang’s plan of holding a massive military parade on the eve of the Olympics. The administration must check itself before it’s too late.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 26, Page 30
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