Transition overshadowed by relocation

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Transition overshadowed by relocation

The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

In February 2021, less than one month after U.S. President Joe Biden took office, reporters asked him, as he was returning from his home in Delaware, about former president Donald Trump, who was denying all charges in the ongoing impeachment trial.

Throughout the campaign, Trump called Biden “Sleepy Joe” and made personal attacks. After the election, he did not accept the result and encouraged radical supporters to rally in Washington, which led to the unprecedented Capitol raid. Biden’s highly anticipated inauguration ceremony was held tightly surrounded by fences.

Biden must have hard feelings for his predecessor, but he simply responded, “Let the Senate handle it.” He also kept a distance from Democrats who argued that Trump should not be allowed to make a political comeback. At the time, daily Covid cases and deaths in the U.S. were the highest in the world. Urgent tasks for the new president were to control Covid-19, revive the economy and restore the fallen global leadership. Biden didn’t want to cover his agenda with the issue of Trump’s impeachment.

A month has passed since the presidential election on March 9 in Korea. Coincidentally, the situation in Korea is not much different from post-election America. Until a few weeks ago, Korea had the most positive daily cases in the world, and the Ukrainian war is making economic recovery even harder. During the election campaign, generational and gender discords, in addition to regional discords, have grown.

However, in the past month, the biggest issue surrounding President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol was the relocation of the presidential office. His plan to relocate the presidential office to the Ministry of National Defense building in Yongsan, Gyeonggi, has overshadowed all other key issues such as disease control, economy recovery and real estate price control. By creating conflict with the current administration, Yoon abandoned the chance to win the hearts of half of the people who did not vote for him.

In fact, even President Biden, who focused on his agenda, is struggling with low approval ratings because of the Afghanistan withdrawal and spread of the Omicron variant. As the Democratic Party does not have a clear majority, many of his ambitious bills have been blocked in the Senate. President-elect Yoon has about a month until inauguration. He has enough time to propose his own solutions to urgent issues. If he does not present his agenda and relies on discords to begin his administration, he will begin a harder second year than the Biden administration around this time next year.
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