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[News Focus] Moon’s approval ratings slide in Seoul, Sejong: poll

Large portion of Koreans in 20s drop support for president over last year

SEJONG -- One year ago, President Moon Jae-in was gaining support from a dominant portion of people nationwide over his performance in state affairs.

Moon’s approval rating had reached 67 percent, according to a poll conducted from July 17-19 last year by Gallup Korea. Only 25 percent of the 1,000 surveyed responded that they did not support him.

His collective approval rating across the country was roughly in proportion to figures in the Seoul metropolitan area and North and South Chungcheong provinces.

The percentage of positive assessment on Moon among the 1,000 respondents was 70 percent in Seoul, 67 percent in Gyeonggi Province and Incheon and 68 percent in Sejong, Daejeon and the Chungcheong provinces.

Negative assessments were 22 percent, 26 percent and 21 percent, in turn. The corresponding support ratings showed a wide disparity between the North and South Jeolla and North and South Gyeongsang provinces at that time.

The situation has changed over the last year amid a variety of worsening indices on the economy and uncertainty over North Korea’s dismantling of nuclear facilities, despite the inter-Korean and Pyongyang-Washington summits.
President Moon Jae-in (third from right) celebrates his 66th birthday with employees of a bakery in Daejeon on Jan. 24. (Cheong Wa Dae)
President Moon Jae-in (third from right) celebrates his 66th birthday with employees of a bakery in Daejeon on Jan. 24. (Cheong Wa Dae)

According to a recent poll by Gallup Korea, released on July 20, more than 40 percent of people residing in the Seoul metropolitan area and Chungcheong provinces said they “do not support” Moon on policies.

In particular, the proportion of disapproval ratings surpassed the approval ratings in Sejong-Daejeon-Chungcheong by 46 percent versus 45 percent.

About 43 percent of those in Seoul and 41 percent of those in Gyeonggi-Incheon said Moon was not doing well. His approval rating in the two most populous regions stood at 50 percent and 51 percent.

Further, about 1 in 5 (19 percent) among those in Gwangju-Jeolla expressed a negative view on Moon’s performance, while only 5 percent in the region had done so a year earlier.

In Busan-Ulsan-South Gyeongsang Province and Daegu-North Gyeongsang Province, negative replies far exceeded positives by 54 percent vs. 39 percent and 61 percent vs. 28 percent.

Though his approval rating nationwide marked 48 percent, 44 percent of the 1,000 respondents said they did not support him.

Apart from the apparent change in the Seoul and Chungcheong areas, a noteworthy point was the reversed stance among those in their 20s.

In July 2018, the percentage of disapproval on Moon was the lowest (18 percent) among those aged 19-29. But 38 percent of those in their 20s expressed a pessimistic view this month.

His approval rating among the youngest group was 77 percent (the highest among all age groups) in the third week of July 2018 and 44 percent (the second-lowest after 34 percent in 60s and older) in the third week of July 2019.

Moon’s approval ratings were relative low among students at 37 percent, housewives at 40 percent and the self-employed at 42 percent.

“Position shift of young people involving college students could be attributable to high youth jobless rate,” a political analyst in Seoul said. “In addition, feminism-leaning policies frustrated men in their 20s.”

According to the pollster, 36 percent of the pessimists pointed to lack of ability to resolve economic affairs, trailed by 11 percent for lax performance in diplomatic affairs, 8 percent with North Korea-oriented policies and 6 percent with drastic hikes in the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of the 1,000 surveyed predicted that the minimum wage hike will have a negative impact on the economy, surpassing responses for a positive outlook at 28 percent.
(Graphic by Han Chang-duck/The Korea Herald)
(Graphic by Han Chang-duck/The Korea Herald)

With the exception of those based in Gwangju and the North and South Jeolla provinces, pessimists outnumbered optimists in all the other regions over the high minimum wage level, according to the pollster.

According to a poll conducted by Jowon C&I and Kukinews and released on July 18, 65.3 percent of respondents in Seoul forecast that economic conditions will deteriorate in the coming months.

In Gyeonggi-Incheon and Sejong-Daejeon-Chungcheong, the percentage of pessimists on the economy scored 63.3 percent and 57.4 percent, respectively.

While the portion of pessimists outnumbered optimists by 63.7 percent versus 29.2 percent across the country, men (67.8 percent) exceeded women (59.6 percent) in the pessimist portion.

Jowon C&I noted that 26.5 percent of the 1,000 respondents picked the nation’s trade feud with Japan as the most negative factor for the economy during the second half, followed by the minimum wage at 17.9 percent.

By Kim Yon-se (