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Moon’s approval at 59.8%, lowest since taking office

His policies on North and the Olympics are seen as main causes
Jan 26,2018
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President Moon Jae-in’s weekly approval rating plunged to 59.8 percent, marking the lowest since he took office in May 2017, as his policy to invite North Korea to the upcoming Winter Olympics failed to generate public support.

According to the Realmeter survey announced on Thursday, Moon’s approval rating for the fourth week of January was 59.8 percent, down by 6.2 percentage points from the previous week. According to the poll, 35.6 percent of the people gave a negative evaluation to Moon’s performance, up by 6.3 percentage points.

“It is the public sentiment, so we must humbly accept it,” a Blue House official said Thursday. He, however, said the president was not briefed on the plunging approval rating nor was it discussed during a morning meeting.

After being elected with 41.1 percent, his approval rating skyrocketed to 82 percent in the following weeks. Since then, the rating steadily dropped to 75.8 percent in June, 74.4 percent in July and 72.7 percent in August. It went down to 68 percent in September and October, but bounced back to 71.2 percent in November.

Although he managed to keep an approval rating of 69.5 percent in December, the figure continued to drop throughout January over his campaign to promote peace by inviting North Korea to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

The daily breakdown of the latest week showed that the public resistance to Moon’s reconciliatory approach toward the North contributed to the falling approval rating.

Although the Blue House issued messages four days in a row to seek support for the campaign, the public responded negatively to the decision to form a joint team between the two Koreas, questioning the plan’s fairness, according to Realmeter. A North Korean delegation’s visit to the South and the North’s decision to observe a major military anniversary on the eve of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics also fueled the negative sentiment, it said.

Moon’s approval rating was 64.4 percent on Friday, but it went down to 60.8 percent on Monday after the North Korean delegation visited the South and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party labeled the PyeongChang Winter Olympics the “Pyongyang Winter Olympics.” Although the Blue House criticized the conservative party for the label on Tuesday, Moon’s approval rating continued to drop to 59.9 percent.

Despite the Blue House’s attempt to promote reconciliation, the North also announced Tuesday that it will change the date commemorating the foundation of its army from April 25 to Feb. 8, fueling the possibility that it will likely hold a military parade on the eve of the Olympic Games.

The Blue House announced another message to seek bipartisan cooperation for the PyeongChang Olympic Games on Wednesday, and his approval rating slightly rebounded to 60.3 percent, ending the decline for eight consecutive days.

According to the poll, Moon’s approval rating went down in all areas except for Chungcheong and among all ages and ideological groups.

According to the poll, the approval rating for the ruling Democratic Party also went down to 46.1 percent, the lowest since the presidential election. The Liberty Korea Party’s rating was 21 percent, up by 2.9 percent, recording the highest since the presidential election.

Moon has invited floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties to seek their cooperation for the Olympics, but the Liberty Korea Party rejected the proposal. A Blue House official said the presidential senior secretary for political affairs is working to arrange the meeting.

Rep. Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the Liberty Korea Party, said Thursday that the meeting proposal is a trick to reverse public sentiment as the approval rating is falling.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]