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(LEAD) Moon takes election rout as 'reprimand' from the public, Cheong Wa Dae says

Politics 11:32 April 08, 2021

(ATTN: MODIFIES 2nd para for clarification; ADDS background briefing in paras 8-10, byline)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- After his Democratic Party (DP) suffered an election rout, President Moon Jae-in stated Thursday that he takes it as a "reprimand" from the public.

He said he will carry out his duties with a "humbler demeanor and heavier sense of responsibility," according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.

Moon was quoted as adding that he will concentrate efforts on meeting the people's "desperate demands," including overcoming the COVID-19 crisis, revitalizing the economy, stabilizing the people's livelihoods and the real estate market, and rooting out corruption.

The liberal DP was overwhelmingly defeated by the conservative main opposition People Power Party in the Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections the previous day.

The defeats have added to speculation on whether Moon will shift his policy direction to win back voters with the presidential election less than a year away.

President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

Many say it would be hard for the president to press ahead with some of controversial reform measures that go against public sentiment.

He is expected to shake up the Cabinet, and probably his Cheong Wa Dae team as well, in a bid to gain fresh momentum.

A Cheong Wa Dae official, however, told reporters later that, "For now, there's no one" who has expressed an intent to resign.

Regarding the possibility of a change in policy direction, the official reiterated Moon's resolve to focus on meeting the public's demands.

Cheong Wa Dae will make all-out efforts to regain trust from the people going forward, he said on background.

Just a year earlier, the DP scored a sweeping victory in the general parliamentary elections.

Emboldened by what he called a "great choice of the people" at that time, Moon said, "I feel a sense of heavy responsibility with the whole body before delight."


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