Is change finally coming?President Moon Jae-in started the second half of his five-year term with a dinner with the heads of the ruling and opposition parties. Earlier on Sunday, his three key aides - chief of staff Noh Young-min, National Security Director Chung Eui-yong, and policy chief Kim Sang-yo - held a press briefing. Moon also plans to hold a town hall meeting with citizens on Nov. 19. The 100-minute TV discussions will be televised live, just like his May 9 press conference.
The president’s outreach to the political circles, the press and the people is a positive sign. But it must not be a one-time event. Moreover, it must not be a politically-motivated event ahead of the April 15 general election. Moon must be more open to the opposition parties and other critical voices. He should eagerly seek out advice from seniors in various sectors and politicians on the opposition front. He vowed to mingle with the ordinary people after taking office in May 2017, but he has shied away from connecting with the broader society. He also failed to keep his promise to move the presidential office to Gwanghwamun in central Seoul.
Actions also must follow words. Moon’s mid-term report has been very poor. His approval rating has halved from the beginning of his term. Both domestic and foreign affairs have been challenging. The economy has been performing its worst in a decade. The traditional alliance with the United States and Japan also has been shaken. The society is divided after the controversy over former Justice Minister Cho Kuk.
Policy direction requires a radical change. The change is a must - not a choice. The president must become a leader for all, not just for a certain base. He must realign his team at the Blue House and cabinet to form a more engaging government. North Korea must not dominate his government’s entire foreign and security attention. Ties should be improved with Tokyo and Washington. On the economic front, income-led growth and pro-labor policies requires reexamination. So does the phasing-out of nuclear power. Communication takes place when one pays attention to the voice on the opposite side. Communication should not be the means to persuade the other and justify one’s deeds. We all hope to see a different president in the remainder of his term.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 11, Page 34