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Summit gives fillip to poll numbers for president

May 08,2018
President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating has reached nearly 80 percent this week, making him the first South Korean president to enjoy such a high approval rating as he completes his first year in office.

Moon’s approval rating hit 77.4 percent on Monday, a jump of 7.4 percent from last week, according to Realmeter, which surveyed 2,002 people on April 30 and from May 2 to 4, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 points. A total of 15.9 percent rated Moon’s first year in office negatively.

Moon was inaugurated on May 10 of last year and 77.4 percent is the third-highest level in his presidency.

A poll result by Gallup Korea released Friday, which surveyed 1,002 people from May 2 to 3 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points, said Moon’s approval rating hit 83 percent, jumping from 73 percent in the last week of April. That was not a record for Moon in the Gallup Korea poll. Last June, Moon’s approval rating hit its highest point, 84 percent.

The inter-Korean summit was the biggest factor in the Gallup Korea poll result. A total of 826 people rated Moon positively, of whom 49 percent said it was because of the summit and the restoration of dialogue with the North.

Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met on the South Korean side of the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom on April 27 and held the third inter-Korean summit. They signed a Panmunjom Declaration in which the two Koreas “confirmed the common goal of realizing ... a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”

Moon’s 83 percent approval rating by Gallup Korea at the very end of his first year in office is the highest among Korea’s presidents. The approval rating after the first year in office for Roh Tae-woo was 45 percent, Kim Young-sam 55 percent, Kim Dae-jung 60 percent, Roh Moo-hyun 25 percent, Lee Myung-bak 34 percent and Park Geun-hye 56 percent, according to Gallup Korea.

A breakdown of the Gallup poll by political party affiliation showed that 98 percent of respondents who identified themselves as supporters of the ruling Democratic Party rated Moon positively; 61 percent of supporters of the opposition Bareunmirae Party rated Moon positively; and 40 percent of supporters of main opposition Liberty Korea Party rated Moon positively.

A breakdown of the poll by region showed that 96 percent of respondents living in Gwangju and the Jeolla region rated Moon positively, while 85 percent of those in Seoul and 85 percent of those in Incheon and Gyeonggi rated the president’s first year in office positively.

In regard to policies, Moon’s North Korea policies received an 83 percent approval rate; diplomacy 74 percent; health and welfare 55 percent; human resources 48 percent; the economy 47 percent and education 30 percent.

Of the respondents who rated Moon negatively in the Gallup Korea poll, 23 percent said it was because he had pro-North Korea tendencies, while another 22 percent said it was because his economic and public welfare policies were not satisfactory.

BY ESTHER CHUNG AND WIE MOON-HEE [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]