Skyrocketing housing costs behind Moon’s lowest approval rating . . .
South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating dropped to a record low today, earning plaudits from only 36.7 per cent of survey respondents. The numbers also point to a drop in support among liberals, the traditional base of Moon and his Democratic Party. Growing public discontent over the rising cost of housing – which provoked a cabinet reshuffle this month replacing the ministers of interior, health, land and housing, and gender – appears to be the key factor behind Moon’s plummeting approval rating. Despite more than 20 different measures over the last two years and a commitment to build 114,000 additional public rental units over the next two years, the average price for an apartment in Seoul has shot up more than 58 per cent during Moon’s tenure.
Justice minister’s feud with top prosecutor continues to dominate headlines . . .
Meanwhile, Moon’s justice minister’s ongoing battle with the country’s supreme prosecutor continues to dominate headlines. After Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae suspended Supreme Prosecutor Yoon Seok-youl in November over charges of inappropriately meeting with the press and interfering in internal investigations, the dispute was passed onto a disciplinary committee, which will decide tomorrow whether Yoon can retain his position. For his part, President Moon also recently apologized to the nation for the feud, claiming that it “caused worries among the people when they need to unite their hearts for COVID-19 control and their livelihoods.”
‘Hell Joseon’ returns with a vengeance despite initial COVID-19 successes . . .
The Moon administration’s current challenges contrast sharply with the COVID-19 success-induced popularity he was able to leverage during parliamentary elections this April. But a worsening COVID-19 third wave and continued economic hardship indicate that ‘Hell Joseon,’ a moniker for the worsening economic prospects and staggering wealth inequality in Korea, now dominate the political landscape. With the South Korean economy’s growing reliance on ‘chaebol’ conglomerates, an increase in gig employment, a record-high level of household debt, and a rising suicide rate among young women since the start of the pandemic, the Moon administration’s task of completing its agenda of systemic economic and political reform faces multiple challenges.
- The Diplomat: South Korea’s prosecution reform saga heads toward final showdown
- East Asia Forum: Chaebol reform still an uphill battle after Lee Kun-hee
- Yonhap News Agency: S. Koreans feel pinch of rising housing costs amid economic downturn