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최종편집 : 2019.4.15 월 12:49
NewsSocial & Political Desk
President Moon Jae-in Faces Endless Obstacles
Ryu Dong-hyeon  |  r12dh16@naver.com
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승인 2019.04.13  21:55:23
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In 2017, Park Geun-hye, the former president of South Korea was fired due to impeachment proceedings of the National Assembly. Subsequently, Moon Jae-in was elected as the president through the presidential election on May 7. President Moon Jae-in's approval rating was high enough, which was over 80 percent. However, the approval rating has plummeted to below 60 percent since last August due to an unstable real estate market and deteriorating employment, and the approval rating has dropped to 45 percent in December. CAH wants to find out why the approval rating has plummeted in the not-so-long period of about a year and a half, and how it can improve.
The President Takes a Leap Forward
An Open Atmosphere of Communication
           In his inauguration speech, he said, "I will become a president who can communicate with the people all the time. The president will brief the press on major issues in person”, stressing that he will overcome the lack of communication. On May 19, 9 days after the speech, the ruling and opposition parties had a luncheon meeting with the floor leaders of the five parties. At the time, Gallup's survey found that the approval rating was 87 percent. Then on August 17, on the 100th day of his inauguration, he held his first public press conference, not a cabinet announcement or a briefing on state affairs. At that time, reporters were free to ask any questions to Moon Jae-in. This showed that he tried to communicate directly in the press conference. This format was also used in his 2019 press conference. This attitude played a good role in conveying the image of an open president to the public. On August 17, he also implemented a system called the Blue House petition with a vision that "the government will answer when people ask." The system allows government officials to respond to the request after registering the petition on the website and receiving more than 200,000 recommendations in 30 days. The fact that an individual can communicate directly with the Blue House, one of the nation's top authorities, has earned the attention of many people, even on matters the administration cannot resolve. Moon Jae-in is occupied with the public's interest in real issues and is highlighting communication issues. As a result, despite issues such as North Korea's provocations, the government was able to draw high approval ratings in the early days of its administration.
2018 Winter Olympics
           When Lee Myung-bak won the bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics during his presidency, there were some big and small concerns, even though it seemed to have a positive outlook. The public's expectations for the 2018 Winter Olympics began to fall because of South Korea's presidential scandal that revealed that Park Geun-hye had illegally forced companies to raise money for her. In addition, Russia was barred from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics following a doping scandal dating back to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The conflict between the NHL[1] and IOC over the costs of playing in the ice hockey competition has put the ice hockey on alert as NHL players have declared a boycott. Despite such a series of bad news, South Korea received rave reviews from all over the world for good performance and good management of licensed products such as Soohorang and Bandabi[2]. The total income of the competition was $2.245 billion, and the total expenditure was $2.19 billion, achieving a surplus of at least $55 million. In addition, Kim Yo-jong, who is a key member of North Korea’s government, met Moon Jae-in. There have been steady footsteps for peace on the Korean Peninsula ever since. The people's positive view of the 2018 Winter Olympics stems from both peace and the economy. In fact, the approval rating for state administration, which stood at 63 percent in the first week of February, 2018 on the basis of Gallup Korea, rose up to 68 percent in the fourth week of February at the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Peace on the Korean Peninsula
           On February 10, 2018, Kim Yo-jong visited South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. At this time, she directly revealed that she was Kim Jong-un's special envoy and delivered Kim Jong-un's letter. At that time, the inter-Korean summit became a possibility, and South Korea's special envoys visited North Korea on March 5, 2018 to hold talks and have dinner with Kim Jong Un. As a result, a preparatory committee was formed and the date of the meeting was agreed. The inter-Korean summit, which took place on April 27, 2018, resonated with the people. The scene where the two leaders met at the military demarcation line and went to the north for a while, and the scene of the two leaders having a luncheon, made headlines. In particular, the two summit participants took a walk without their aides, and since the meeting could be held without an interpreter, the people recognized that they were Koreans again. According to Gallup Korea, the approval rating for the fourth week of April, 2018 when the survey was conducted before April 27 was 73 percent, but the approval rating for the first week of May since April 27 jumped by about 10 percent to 83 percent. Since then, as the North Korea-U.S. summit was on the verge of collapse, a surprise inter-Korean summit was held at the Unification Pavilion in North Korea at Panmunjeom without any notice. At the request of Kim Jong Un, the summit brought about the desired results as it brought about a new path for the North Korea-U.S. summit. For the first time since the ceasefire on June 12, a historic meeting between the two leaders of North Korea and the United States has taken place in Singapore. Until just 2017, they were pointing out each other as "Rocket men" and "Dotard," which indicated a different atmosphere. Moon Jae-in created peace and stability in the unstable political situation on the Korean Peninsula. The achievement was appreciated by the people.
Problems Finally Revealed
Unstable Real Estate Market in Seoul
           As mentioned in the previous November issue from the Social & Political Desk in 2018, housing prices in Seoul were exploding until 2018, and the situation continued only to increase the complaints of people who did not have homes. Moon Jae-in, of course, announced measures to curb prices and assume responsibility for the real estate market. Still, housing prices did not fall, and some people even used the measures to create new profits. Eventually, the government announced measures to supply housing in September and December. This resulted in some house prices being controlled.
The Government's Inappropriate Economic Direction
           Moon Jae-in government’s most intensive emphasis on economic policy is with its employment policy. The government's job policy was exposed the most to the press. Moon Jae-in announced the inauguration of a five-year roadmap is ‘by income growth jobs for the economy’ of the backbone of economic sectors. With such an emphasis on job creation, the government invested about 17.73 trillion won to 25 trillion won as the main budget and 7.7 trillion won as the budget for additional jobs in 2017. As of 2018, however, the employment index was the worst ever. Unemployment peaked at 4% in August 2018 and youth unemployment reached 10% in 2018. In particular, the economic indicators have continued to improve in major countries such as the United States, Japan, Britain and Germany, while only Korea has been under increasing criticism. With such a large budget, policies such as a steep rise in minimum wage and restrictions on self-employed lending have worsened job indicators and created job shocks. Despite the trend, however, the government raised the minimum wage by 10% to 8,350 won in 2019.
The Unfairness of the Society
           During the 2017 presidential election, people were fed up with the frequent corruption of politicians. Thus, real estate speculation, tax evasion, fake registration, and plagiarism were indicators of corruption. Moon Jae-in said that we will exclude them from public office. However, many candidates have been subject to this standard since taking office. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon raised suspicions about his son's exemption from the military, his alleged tax evasion, and his apartment's capital gains. In addition, Kim Sang-jo, Kim Dong-yeon, Kang Kyung-hwa, and other major appointed officials have also been been closely looked at. In addition, controversy arose over fairness as the women's ice hockey team was formed for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The nation's discontent has been expressed by a curious phenomenon in which a hard-trained athlete must be sacrificed for the representative value of peace between the two Koreas. Especially, in the case of the Winter Olympics where there is no special treatment for the host country, the athletes won the right to participate in the Olympics, and it was "impressive" to share them with North Korean athletes according to Sarah Murray, the coach of the Korean women's ice hockey team. Such a mere statement of fairness has increasingly decreased public trust.
New Beginning
The Readjustment of Economic Policies
           In order to overcome the job shock in 2018 and the dream of a new economy, efforts are needed to acknowledge that the current government policy is wrong, and there should be a new one. In particular, the increase in minimum wage was expected to make the quality of employment better, but this policy resulted in job cuts by reducing part-time jobs and replacing them with kiosks. As the overall economy is not changing easily, raising wages in this situation just resulted in job cuts. The government should accept this and show its willingness to freeze or lower the minimum wage. It also needs to get rid of the mistaken principle of income-driven growth and look at the economy from a new perspective.
Personnel Reshuffle
           The Moon Jae-in government has helped a variety of people but disappointed others. Even when the president broke the standards he proclaimed. In order to emphasize fairness and show the public that they want to start anew, they need to reform their human resources. The 2nd term cabinet also consists of top aides of the Moon Jae-in government cabinet, so this amounted to only a happy medium. If opposition figures are appointed to seek a new reversal and show that corruption has been discovered, people will trust the government again.
           The policies like The Blue House’s people petition or the free press conference are good for communication with people. If, however, such communication ends in a superficial way and is not reflected in actual policy, the above communication will just be a show. At the news conference, President Moon Jae-in answered eventually many questions from reporters about the economic policy with answers like, "We'll supplement it if necessary, but we'll maintain the policy." It is significant that many people can open up communications through press conferences or national petitions. However, a true leader can be assessed when reflecting people's opinions gathered through such communications and sometimes even changing their policies. CAH hopes that the opportunity is equal, the process is fair and the result is righteous.


[1] The best professional ice hockey league in the U.S. and Canada; the most famous ice hockey league in the world.

[2] Official mascot for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics 

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