Ineffective policies hurt Moon's popularity
President Moon Jae-in's approval rating has plummeted to a record low since he took office in May 2017, reflecting the people's mounting disappointment in his administration.
In a Realmeter survey released this week, Moon's job approval rating was 58 percent, marking the first time for his approval rating to drop under 60 percent.
Moon took office with the promise to become a "jobs president" and build a fair society following the corruption scandal that resulted in the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. But after slightly more than a year in office, Moon has not shown that his administration is fully up to these tasks. That is why the President's approval rating, which had hovered over 70 percent at the beginning of his term, has continued to drop, after peaking around the April 27 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the border village of Panmunjeom.
There are several reasons for the continuous plunge, but the biggest has got to be the people's frustration over the hopeless job situation and the economy. The latest data continues to show weak growth in new jobs and worsening youth unemployment.
Moon's economic policies have resulted in serious conflict. The President's push to raise the minimum wage has only triggered huge backlash from the self-employed and small businesses. Moon had to apologize last month for not being able to maintain his election pledge to raise the hourly minimum wage to 10,000 won ($8.85) by 2020. The Moon administration's rush to introduce a shorter workweek and reduce the number of irregular jobs without fully considering the impact on companies have also caused grave concerns for businesses.
Many people are becoming frustrated with the various tax hikes initiated by the Moon administration amid the bad economy and stagnant wages.
Another serious problem for the President is that more people are losing faith in his pledge for a fairer society, particularly after the online manipulation scandal allegedly involving South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Kyoung-soo, one of Moon's closest associates. The special counsel investigating the case summoned Kim twice this week. The mounting allegations against him and his brazen attitude are starting to adversely affect the Moon administration.
There is little doubt about Moon's sincerity to advance the people's livelihoods. But his popularity will wane further unless his administration starts to produce some tangible outcomes. Moon is advised to focus less on inter-Korean issues and concentrate harder on resetting his economic policies.