South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating was held steady at 50% as he enters into his third year in office, with many looking favorably at the improved North Korea relations but critical of his handling of the economy.
According to a Maeil Business Newspaper and MBN poll conducted by Metrix, 50.4 percent of Koreans approved of the way Moon was handling his job as president, with 44.3 percent disapproving.
Specifically, those who answered “very good” accounted for 15.4 percent, “fairly good” 35.0 percent, “not very good” 21.9 percent and “very bad” 22.4 percent.
Males tended to be slightly more critical, with 48.7 percent responding negatively and 47.8 percent positively. It was the opposite for females, with positive respondents (52.9 percent) greatly outnumbering the negative (40.0 percent).
When asked about the issues where the president was doing well, improved relations between the two Koreas (59.9 percent) topped the list, followed by social reforms (45.9 percent) and communication with the public (36.3 percent).
But the economy remained Moon’s weakest point, with 59.3 percent of respondents expressing frustration at the country’s deteriorating economic and job conditions. Other causes for concern were the government’s pro-North Korea stance (32.2 percent) and the minimum wage hikes and reduced workweek (30.9 percent), two key policies under Moon’s income-driven economic agenda.
The government’s new energy initiative to wean the country off nuclear power remained highly controversial. Only 19.0 percent of the respondents were in favor of the policy, with 22.1 percent saying it had to be scrapped. The overriding opinion (49.5 percent) was that it was a long-term issue that needed to be approached incrementally.
Nuclear reactors account for about one-third of Korea’s total energy output. Moon vowed to more than triple the share of renewable energy sources to 20 percent by 2030 and phase out nuclear energy by 2060. Under the initiative, the government has halted the construction of new reactors and retired aged facilities before their legitimate age.
A poll to gauge public opinion about future president candidates was also conducted. Results showed that the two most popular candidates were Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and Hwang Kyo-ahn, leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, with ratings of 17.8 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively. But in a one-on-one match, Lee comfortably beat out his opponent Hwang by 15 percentage points at 41.0 percent.
The latest survey was conducted in May 5-7 among 1,000 Korean adults, with half of the calls made on landlines and the other half on mobile phones. The survey has a 95 percent confidence level and a ±3.10 sampling margin of error.
By Kim Gi-chul and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]