Promises to keepPresident Moon Jae-in’s special address on Monday to mark his fourth year in office was just a repeat of his past remarks and was entirely detached from reality. In the 20-minute speech, he disappointed anyone hoping for a dramatic turning point in his governance after reflecting on what really went wrong over the past four years. Many are wondering why the president only blames others for the problems facing the country instead of seeing sense and changing course in the final year of his term.
Moon did appear to admit responsibility for the government’s failure to control skyrocketing apartment prices in Seoul and other parts of the country. Two years ago, he was confident he could stabilize the runaway prices of real state. Nevertheless, the president stressed that his administration’s real estate policy won’t change, adding that the government will do its best to stabilize prices. But he offered no details on how to achieve that goal.
The public can not expect a fundamental shift in policies, including on the economy. Instead, the president was bent on praising the government’s “achievements” without any sense of contrition for policy mistakes. On the grave issue of his repeated appointment fiascos, the president refuted the idea, saying that the opposition’s disapproval of nominees for ministerial positions does not necessarily signify a Blue House failure in screening them. Moon also emphasized that the public is seeing light at the end of the tunnel in the battle against the coronavirus despite deepening public concerns about a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines.
In his inaugural speech four years ago, Moon pledged to become a “president for all” through close communication with the people and to establish a fairer society by creating more jobs and recruiting officials in a fair way. With only a year left in office, those promises have not been realized. The jobless rate for the young has soared to nearly 30 percent and people’s livelihoods only got tougher after the liberal administration pushed for a punitive tax on real estate transactions. In the meantime, piles of debts are growing in the state coffers. As the economy is on thin ice, even a slight external shock could shatter it.
Moon vowed to administer the nation with unflinching resoluteness during the remainder of his term. In his New Year’s address in January, the president underscored the importance of unifying the nation. If he wants to keep that promise, he must stop dividing the people into friends and foes and convince the people of his ability to persuade them by presenting a vision and earning their trust. The clock is ticking for Moon.