President Moon Jae-in's approval rating has plunged to the lowest level since his inauguration 28 months ago. At the same time, those who disapprove of his leadership of the nation increasingly outweigh those who approve. The phenomenon is noticeable even among supporters of the ruling Democratic Party — mostly thanks to Moon's heedless appointment of Cho Kuk, his former senior secretary for civil affairs, as justice minister despite all the controversy surrounding him and his family.
The Blue House and ruling camp desperately want to escape from this "black hole" that sucks up all the attention, which should be focused on major issues facing the nation. Public calls for Cho's resignation are spreading like wildfire. The number of professors who signed an online petition to ask Cho to resign is 1,000 more than a similar petition that demanded the resignation of former President Park Geun-hye over the corruption and abuse of power scandal two years ago. On Thursday, students from Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University joined hands to call for Cho's resignation at a candlelight vigil.
If common sense is still upheld in our society, Cho must resign. Not just because he should take responsibility for his failed screenings — repeatedly — of qualifications of candidates for senior government positions, but also because the bare face of his hypocrisy has been exposed day after day since the prosecution kicked off investigations into allegations against him. Yet President Moon turns a blind eye to ever-growing public demands for his resignation.
The ruling party says the time has come to take care of the people's livelihoods instead of focusing on Cho in the face of economic hardships at home and abroad. And Moon makes us extremely frustrated by saying that our economy is going in the right direction — despite all the bad effects of his bold push for rapid hikes in the minimum wage. That's not all. Amid dangerously fluctuating economic indicators, the Korea-U.S. alliance is shaking and conflict between Korea and Japan that hurts the economy is not being dealt with.
The ruling party's floor leader Lee In-young expressed a wish to get beyond the Cho issue. The answer is simple — Lee must urge his boss to sack Cho and let him be investigated. That's what the public wants, and what the administration claims to have been championing — an equal, fair and just society.
At his inauguration two years ago, Moon promised to create a society that ensures equal opportunity, fair procedures and impartial results. It is not the time for Moon to ask opposition parties to return their focus to people's livelihoods. It's time to resolve the Cho crisis.
The government must look deeper into our deepening economic woes. If it tries to package a numerical increase in jobs for the older population — albeit part-time jobs — as an improvement in employment both in quantity and quality, that's shameless. Past governments collapsed due to such disinformation campaigns.
Moon came to power thanks to his promise not to take that path. Sticking with Cho is the same as a threat to the public.
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