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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 2)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:05 August 02, 2022

Total revamp urgent
: Yoon, ruling party should take drastic steps to change

It is a pity that President Yoon Suk-yeol is suffering from nosediving approval ratings less than three months since his inauguration. Worse still, his ruling People Power Party (PPP) has been engulfed in a fierce internal dispute with its leadership having been virtually paralyzed. Even abnormal and more serious is the fact that the current fiasco comes despite the ruling camp's consecutive victories in the presidential and local elections.

Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, the PPP floor leader and acting chairman, has vowed to quit the chairmanship. His announcement on Sunday came after some of the party's Supreme Council members expressed their intentions to resign. They called for a total facelift of the party, government and the presidential office to tackle the current setbacks.

On Monday, PPP lawmakers gathered and agreed on the need to discuss the proposed formation of an emergency committee. Yet the party's infighting is expected to continue due to differing stances over the ad hoc committee and a new leadership. The PPP has been taking flak for its internal discord despite Yoon's approval rating plummeting to 28 percent -- with 62 percent disapproval -- according to a recent Gallup survey.

The infighting within the PPP must be wrapped up soon given the need to muster momentum for the nation to tide over multiple looming challenges, internal and external. President Yoon should realize this first, and turn for the better by acknowledging he is the most responsible for the current crisis.

Criticism on Yoon has been increasing on his personnel bungles, lack of experience and competence, coupled with messaging failures. Despite the need to tap seasoned elites and experts, he appointed many former prosecutors to major political posts. Now Yoon needs to carry out overall renovation of the presidential office, affecting his chief aide and secretaries in charges of political and communications affairs.

The PPP leadership has remained void since Kweon quit the acting chairmanship and the declared resignation of Supreme Council members Reps. Bae Hyun-jin, Cho Su-jin and Yoon Young-seok. The party will likely brace for escalating conflicts regarding, for instance, the legal status of former Chairman Lee Jun-seok who was suspended temporarily in connection with a sexual bribery allegation.

For the party's renovation to succeed, it is necessary for the close associates of President Yoon to retreat to the sidelines. As Rep. Cho put it, the current crisis facing Yoon and the PPP cannot be overcome without overall efforts to revamp the party, government and the presidential office, altogether.

Signs of tectonic challenges are emerging over a possible economic slowdown amid high inflation. Under these circumstances, the ruling camp should no longer remain feeble and divided, which is tantamount to a betrayal of the people who allowed them to win the elections. What is most urgent is for President Yoon to reflect thoroughly on himself to effect a total change, making the most of his summer holidays which began on Monday.

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