Make amends, radically and swiftly

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Make amends, radically and swiftly

President Yoon Suk-yeol returning from his first break since taking office three months ago said his appreciation for the public has grown both for their “scorn” and “warm encouragement.” He vowed to keep his early devotion in respect to the public wishes. He indicated letting go of Education Minister Park Soon-ae for stoking public rage for floating the plan of lowering school entry age to five from the current six without public consensus, as “all governing power comes from the people.” Yoon said, “I will take necessary actions from the perspective of the people.” The comment comes as his approval rating dipped under 30 percent.

Park’s appointment had been concerning from the beginning for her drinking and driving record. She briefed on the plan to lower school admission age to the president without tapping opinions of parents, educators, and other related parties. Her idea of scrapping language-specializing elite schools also caused protest. Yoon had defended his choice of Park, claiming she excelled more than anyone on the past administration. But her behaviors proved otherwise.

But losing Park won’t be enough to turn the tide with negative rating on Yoon’s performance topping 70 percent. Since the governing People Power Party (PPP) has shifted to emergency leadership mode, the confidants of Yoon who have caused unnecessary conflict and controversies should retreat to the peripheral. Internal complaints have risen against Yoon’s former chief secretary Chang Je-won who had influenced appointments and Kweon Seong-dong who had stirred an array of controversies as the acting head of PPP. Suspended chief Lee Jun-seok has vowed legal action and internal strife won’t subside unless the two Yoon confidants back off.

Yoon’s over-recruitment of acquaintances in presidential office and key cabinet seats has caused an eyesore. The public have become disgruntled that Yoon was no different from the past government that lost ruling power for its stubborn unilateral ways. Placing personal relations or acquaintances of his wife in the presidential office or government cannot be pardoned in any way. He must order a thorough investigation of alleged influence-meddling by a shaman close to the presidential family and a revamp controversial appointments.

Although Yoon nears 100 days in office, the health and welfare minister is unseated despite the resurgence of Covid-19 variants. The post of the prosecutor general also remains empty. Minister of the Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min, a close confidant of Yoon, has also become a disappointment for failing to win over the police in the plan to create a police administration bureau inside the ministry to control the police. Yoon must make amends radically and swiftly.
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