How competent are you, Mr. President?

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How competent are you, Mr. President?

The author is a reporter from S Team at the JoongAng Ilbo.

Competency is the key word President Yoon Suk-yeol emphasizes. Before taking office, he mostly used it to criticize the previous administration. When appearing on a YouTube video in December 2021, Yoon said, “The more an incompetent government intervenes, the more damage it causes. The current administration is an incompetent one.”

After taking office, he mainly used the word to defend his appointment choices. In a news conference shortly after his election victory in March, he said, “To serve the people properly, we need to select people with the best experience and skills in each field.” When he was criticized for making biased appointments — mostly males in their 50s from Seoul National University — President Yoon responded by saying, “They will do good jobs, just trust me.”

But how many people will accept the competency of this administration? The rushed installation of the police bureau failed to win support. When people questioned whether it was such an urgent job, the justification of “democratic control of police” faded. The debt adjustment plan to help young people also caused a backlash. Taxpayers were angry that their money was going to help those who borrowed money to invest in stocks and cryptocurrency. The keyword of the time is “fairness,” but Yoon failed to read public sentiment correctly. It is not strange that the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Center is being ridiculed as the Korea Disease Watch Center as it seems to have no presence though Covid-19 is spreading again.

The climax was the adjusting of the age to enter elementary school from 6 to 5. The education minister threw an unprepared key word to the parents, who are one of the most powerful voices in the country. If the presidential office has to clarify what a minister announces, it means that the prior coordination is faulty. This is happening over and over.

The competency of a government comes from its policies. Policies need to be well planned and executed thoroughly. Smooth internal communication is the basis for traction. In the course of its execution, it is essential to persuade other policy demand and adjust the speed.

Even if it is all done well, it is not easy to get compliments. In contrast, it is easy to be marked as incompetent and it is hard to recover the reputation. We cannot be optimistic about Yoon’s situation. It will be his 100th day in office next week. His approval rating is 29.3 percent, according to Real Meter. The nation is questioning the president’s competency.
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