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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Sept. 11)

All Headlines 07:03 September 11, 2018

Moon's sad ratings
More people upset by government incompetence

President Moon Jae-in's job approval rating is on a downward trend. It fell below the 50 percent range for the first time since he took office in May 2017.

In a Sept. 7 Gallup survey, only 49 percent of respondents gave a positive assessment of the President's performance, a 4 percent drop from the previous week. This is a significant decline from just a few months ago when Moon's job approval rating hovered well over 70 percent. Shortly after the June local elections where his Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) enjoyed overwhelming success, his job approval rating reached 79 percent. But in less than three months, the President finds himself less popular than ever since the beginning of his presidency. This means that the people are getting more disenchanted with his administration.

It is particularly noteworthy that Moon's job approval ratings fell below the 50 percent mark despite the government's announcement of a third inter-Korean summit. President Moon and his delegation will travel to Pyongyang for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un between Sept. 18 and 20. The date was announced after Moon's special envoy and national security adviser Chung Eui-yong returned from a one-day trip to Pyongyang, Sept. 5, to discuss the details for the third summit. This is the first time in 11 years that an inter-Korean summit will be held in the North Korean capital, after former President Roh Moo-hyun went to Pyongyang in October 2007 to meet with Kim Jong-il, the incumbent's late father. But the latest drop in the President's approval ratings shows that even a huge event like the meeting of the leaders of the two Koreas is not enough to catch the people's attention. For most people struggling with life issues, it is the last thing on their minds.

The Gallup survey pointed to the economic missteps of the Moon administration, such as the minimum wage hike, income-led growth policy, uncertainty in the housing market and the unemployment crisis as the main reasons for the consistent drop in the President's popularity. In particular, steep housing prices are making many people feel hopeless about owning a home of their own, resulting in the term "house divide," which is fast becoming one of the most serious social problems in the country. Also, many workers are becoming frustrated by the soaring taxes under this administration while their incomes are not getting any higher.

Moon should take his rating decline seriously to heart and set his priorities straight, while continuing to communicate more with the people and the opposition.

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