Moon appoints young secretaries in move to sway voters

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Moon appoints young secretaries in move to sway voters

From left: Kim Han-kyu, Park Seong-min and Lee Seung-bok. [NEWS1]

From left: Kim Han-kyu, Park Seong-min and Lee Seung-bok. [NEWS1]

 
President Moon Jae-in on Monday named a university student as the secretary for youth affairs and a young Harvard-graduate lawyer as a new political secretary, in a move apparently designed to charm younger voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.
 
Park Seong-min, a 24-year-old student of Korea University, was appointed as the presidential secretary for youth affairs, the Blue House said Monday. She is the youngest member to join the Moon Blue House.
 
Park had served some key posts earmarked for youngsters in the ruling Democratic Party (DP). She served as the spokeswoman from September 2019 till August 2020, and from there she went on to serve as a member of the Supreme Council until April 2021. She also co-chaired the party’s youth committee from September 2020 till April 2021.
 
Kim Han-kyu, a 46-year-old lawyer of Kim & Chang law firm, was named the new secretary of political affairs. In the April 2020 general elections, he ran as the DP’s candidate in Seoul’s Gangnam C District but lost. He studied law for his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Seoul National University and completed the Master of Laws program from Harvard University in 2012. He was admitted to the New York and Korean bars and joined Kim & Chang in April 2005.
 
“Kim had various experiences during his 20-year career as a lawyer,” presidential spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee said. “He will communicate with the National Assembly using his social and communication abilities and carry out his job from the perspective of the general public.”
 
The latest appointments of two secretaries under 50 appeared to be targeting younger voters. Over the past year, these younger voters, disappointed at the administration and the ruling party, increasingly turned away from the DP, leading to its crushing defeats in the mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan.
 
Earlier this month, the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) introduced a generational shift when it elected Lee Jun-seok, a 36-year-old politician, as its new chairman.
 
A Blue House source made clear Monday that naming Kim as the political secretary is a strategic choice to counter the PPP’s move to reinvent its image. The source dismissed concerns that Kim was named as the political secretary although he has no experience as a lawmaker. “There is an opposition chairman who has no experience in the National Assembly,” the source said, referring to Lee.
 
In the latest poll by Realmeter, the PPP’s approval rating was 39.7 percent, up by 0.6 percentage points from the previous week. The poll was conducted from June 14 till 18 and released Monday.
 
The weekly approval rating of the PPP is the highest since the Park Geun-hye administration faced the abuse of power scandal in 2016.
 
The DP’s rating was 29.4 percent, up by 0.2 percentage points.
 
The DP, which has long enjoyed strong support from younger voters, faced a significant loss over the past year.
 
According to Realmeter’s weekly poll, the DP scored 38.2 percent among voters in their 20s during the second week of June in 2020, but the figure dropped to 23.2 percent during the same period this year. It scored 54.1 percent among the voters in their 30s and 53.9 percent in their 40s in 2020, but those support ratings also dropped to 39 percent and 36.7 percent, respectively, one year later.
 
The PPP scored 24.8 percent among those in their 20s, 19.6 percent among those in 30s and 20.3 percent among those in their 40s in second week of June in 2020. One year later, it recorded 39 percent among voters in their 20s, 31.9 percent in their 30s and 31.9 percent in their 40s.
 
Jolted by the exodus of young supporters, DP Chairman Song Young-gil urged Moon earlier this month in a National Assembly speech to name a special minister on youth affairs. Moon’s decision to name two young politicians to the Blue House posts appeared to accommodate the party’s request.
 
Meanwhile, Moon also named Lee Seung-bok, a senior official of the Education Ministry, as the secretary for education.
 
BY SER MYO-JA   [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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