A warning for MoonPresident Moon Jae-in’s approval rating dropped to barely above 50 percent, the lowest since he took office in May 2017. More alarmingly, the fall has continued over the last eight weeks. If the trend continues, his approval rating could fall below 50 percent. Of course, public support for a president can go up or down depending on his or her performance as head of state. As time went on, no one expected Moon’s amazing approval rating would stay over 70 percent until the end of his term.
Nevertheless, Moon must not simply dismiss this as a fluctuation. He may have earned remarkable ratings thanks to complex domestic factors — including lethargic opposition parties and his aggressive North Korea policy — as well as his personal attractions. But the time has come for the president and his liberal administration to be evaluated by their capabilities to govern the nation. The noticeable fall in his approval rating concisely demonstates that the public is slowly turning its backs on him — and for very real reasons.
The biggest cause of the fall is his wrong approach to the economy and ever-worsening economic conditions for the people. According to a recent poll, people in their 20s who cannot find jobs and the self-employed, who had to shut down their businesses due to the governmentally enforced hikes in the minimum wage, are withdrawing their support for Moon. His predicament is exacerbated by opposition from voters in South and North Gyeongsang, the home turf of Korea’s conservatives. A lot of them voted for Moon in the last election, but they are increasingly distancing themselves from him.
Moon must focus on the reasons why conservative voters in the region as well as moderates have stopped supporting him. His rush to improve inter-Korean ties when North Korea has not even removed one of its nuclear weapons: it has only deepened internal disagreement over our security. His crusade to get rid of the “past evils” stopped short of producing tangible results. His top-down governance style did not satisfy the public’s growing appetite for communication.
Moon must realize what the sizable fall in his approval ratings really stands for. He must do his best to revive our economy. He must listen to other voices rather than adhering to a mish-mash of misleading advice from his aides. That was the very promise he made in his inauguration speech 18 months ago. A lot of people don’t think he kept that promise.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 23, Page 30