Moon turns his back on the people
The author is an editorial writer at the JoongAng Ilbo.
This year, about 300,000 babies were born in Korea, but in 2007, 500,000 babies were born. It was the year of “golden pig” in the traditional calendar, which fell for the first time in 600 years. Parents believed that their newborns will have fortunate lives.
Because 2006 was believed to be an auspicious year to get married, many couples planned childbirths. Surprisingly, next year is actually also the year of golden pig. The government and industries are trying to boost childbirth to the levels of 12 years ago.
Those born in the year of pig are believed to have luck with money. In 1971, in the year of the pig, 1.02 million babies were born. This was the year with the most childbirths ever.
Everything was competition for them. The competition for college admission was the highest then. When they finished military service and graduated collage in 1997, the Asian foreign exchange crisis hit Korea. They quickly then went into their late 30s, which is believed to be the last chance to find a new job. For them, age 45 became the new normal retirement age.
They are the core supporters of President Moon Jae-in. At work, they are the senior managers who play key roles and at home, they are the moneymakers for their families. It was a great fortune and asset for the Moon administration that they — the key members of the society — are his supporters.
But now, they are turning against Moon quickly. In a recent poll, Moon’s disapproval and approval ratings are similar. Just six months ago, Moon’s approval rating was over 80 percent.
New negative reactions toward Moon’s economic policies are growing. Economic problems such as a disastrous unemployment situation, a growing rust belt in Gyeongsang region and a small business crisis are the main reasons. Those in their 40s are actually a relatively stable group in this economic crisis.
The government’s major policies are focused on those in their 30s and 40s, and welfare programs such as childcare subsidies are concentrated on them, so they are satisfied with the policies. Yet they are still enraged at the administration because it is no different from the high-handed, arrogant previous administration.
The latest scandal surrounding the Blue House’s suspected illegal surveillance of civilians is an example.
After the local elections in June, Moon said he is feeling pressure over the high expectations toward his administration and presented three key principles — effective government, high ethics and humble attitude. But the Blue House at the time was actually investigating scholars, politicians and journalists.
After the scandal was made public, it called the whistleblower a rogue individual, fueling suspicions. It shows that the Moon administration is following in the footsteps of the unethical previous administrations.
The Moon administration’s more serious problem is its obstinacy and lack of communication. It insists that the administration does not have DNA that allows it spy on civilians. In other words, it is claiming that it is not a surveillance operation as long as the information on civilians is not used politically.
The administration has been punishing similar acts from previous administrations, and when it was an opposition party, it once claimed that the previous administration must be impeached over such behavior.
Moon apologized for the minimum wage hike, but the government sped up the process just one week later. But the government failed to offer humble explanations, and the Blue House its vacation.
It is no wonder that the public was reminded of Moon’s predecessor’s lack of understanding of the issues when he asked, “Is the minimum wage being increased too quickly?”
Moon’s predecessor must have wanted to complete her term successfully. She just lacked communication and persuasion, and she shot down opinions that opposed hers. The Moon administration was born by condemning her attitude.
It was why the presidential aides participated in a publicity stunt where they held take-out coffee cups for a casual meeting. But just after one year, Moon skipped a press conference while giving unreasonable responses reporters’ questions. We are now seeing deja vu. The president has stopped dining with other people and exchanging opinions.
The generation in their 40s questioned themselves about what justice is when they face fierce competition. They were touched by Moon’s slogan that “There will be an equal opportunity, fair process and a just outcome.” But skepticism is growing.
Nine first-term lawmakers of the Democratic Party who were born in the 1970s started a nationwide event to communicate with the public.
They want to recapture Moon’s supporters, but the outcome may not be productive. They won’t be able to succeed by criticizing the previous administration. They must tell the public first why Moon’s words and actions are different. Whether it was about the minimum wage hike or the latest scandal, the people have the right to know. The president has the duty to tell the people.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 28, Page 30