President Moon Jae-in is still enjoying high popularity as he marked the 100th day in office, Thursday, with his recent approval ratings hovering around 80 percent.
In a public survey conducted by local pollster Embrain between Aug. 15 and 16, 84.1 percent of respondents supported Moon’s management of state affairs.
According to Gallup Korea, his approval rating stood at 78 percent in the latest poll conducted between Aug. 8 and 10. The pollster showed Moon’s weekly approval ratings stayed high between 74 to 84 percent for the last 100 days. His average approval rating in the first quarter of the first year of his presidency was 81 percent, the highest of all the presidents.
Pundits say the President’s engagement with the public and attitude showing no authority propelled his high popularity.
“Moon’s unprecedented approach as a leader must have been touching for the people,” Kim Dong-young, general manager of the Korean Society Opinion Institute (KSOI), said, referring to Moon’s coming into contact with ordinary people.
“It was such a strong contrast to his predecessor Park Geun-hye who had often been criticized for a lack of communication, and was seen as breaking out from the self-centered leadership people had been fed up with.”
Moon casually ate with staffs at a Cheong Wa Dae cafeteria or had take-away coffee with his aides while walking together. He moved his office from a single-person working area to a building of presidential secretaries, with the ultimate plan to move out of Cheong Wa Dae, which sits back near a mountain, to the Gwanghwamun government complex by 2019.
He removed the curfew on the road in front of Cheong Wa Dae and opened it to people for 24 hours, first time in 50 years. The leader easily shook hands or took selfie when he encountered people on the streets.
Moon gave a hug with tears to a bereaved family member of a victim of the military junta’s bloody suppression of the 1980 Gwangju pro-democracy movement in a ceremony marking its anniversary, leaving strong impression to the people.
Moon’s push for policies including welfare expansion and a show of determination for social reform is also appealing to the people, pundits say.
“Welfare is all about giving out. It’s natural for citizens who do not see themselves as privilege to show support for Moon’s direction,” Hwang Tae-soon, an political analyst, said, noting the Moon administration’s recent announcement of raising the monthly childcare allowance, basic pension and expanding the coverage of state health insurance.
“His show of determination and the following actions to clear out irregularities and corruption, which was a big part of his campaign pledges, is also the point that brings strong support from the people.”
Speculations are high in political circles that Moon would continue boasting high approval rating for a while, as there are many reformative schemes including constitutional amendment and prosecutorial reform, awaiting.
A ruling party official prospected, “Moon’s support rate may remain high until the local election next year.”
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