+ A

Moon’s approval rating dips over Me Too case

Mar 09,2018
이미지뷰
President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating fell despite his triumphs in diplomacy with North Korea as a result of a sex scandal plaguing a former high-profile member of the Democratic Party.

According to a Realmeter survey released on Thursday, Moon’s approval rating for this week was 65.6 percent, down by 0.9 percentage points. The poll was conducted from Monday until Wednesday, as the Moon administration announced several agreements reached with North Korea by a delegation he sent to Pyongyang. After meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday, Moon’s special envoys returned Tuesday and announced that an inter-Korean summit will take place in late April.

The survey took place after South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung resigned Tuesday after his secretary said he raped her multiple times.

“In the aftermath of the An scandal, the impact of the special envoy’s visit and an inter-Korean agreement were weakened,” Realmeter said.

In the daily breakdown, Moon’s approval rate was 64.9 percent on Friday. It went up to 66.5 percent on Monday, when the delegation left for Pyongyang, but dropped to 63.9 percent when the An scandal broke out. It rebounded to 66.7 percent on Wednesday as Moon met with political party leaders at the Blue House.

The ruling Democratic Party’s support rate was 47.6 percent this week, 2.4 percentage points lower than last week. It still ranked above other political parties.

“Although the ruling party’s support rate went down, the party leadership quickly expelled An, stopping a further drop,” the Realmeter said.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party’s support rate also went down 1.1 percentage points to 18.6 percent. The Bareun Mirae Party scored 9.1 percent, up 2.3 percentage points, the first increase since its creation through a merger. “The party absorbed some supporters of the Democratic Party and the Liberty Korea Party,” the polling company said.

The Justice Party’s rating went up 1.3 percentage points to 5.8 percent, and Realmeter said it benefited from the An scandal. The Party for Democracy and Peace scored 2.7 percent.

Moon and his ruling party experienced a similar pattern of decline in support in previous weeks. Korean athletes’ victories in various events in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games were expected to boost the support rates of both Moon and the ruling party, but a controversy about a visit to the South by a senior North Korean official, who is suspected of engineering the sinking of the Cheonan warship in 2010, took a toll.

The trend may continue as more sexual misconduct allegations go public. A new accusation of rape against An by another woman was made on Wednesday. Former Democratic Party Rep. Chung Bong-ju, who was planning to declare a bid to run for Seoul mayor in June local elections, was also accused of sexually harassing a reporter in 2011.

The administration and ruling party are concerned about the situation. “We achieved a great outcome in inter-Korean affairs, but they were buried,” said a senior ruling party official. “The people are paying more attention to the Me Too movement, because it is more relevant to them, while inter-Korean issues seemed distant, despite their importance.”

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