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Koreans Want Roh to Focus on Economy

Posted December. 31, 2005 06:17,   


According to a recent survey, eight out of 10 Koreans want President Roh Moo-hyun to make the economy and people’s livelihoods a top priority next year.

In a telephone survey of 2,000 men and women around the country conducted on December 26 and 27 by the Korea Research Center at the request of Dong-A Ilbo, respondents cited economic recovery (56.6 percent), resolution of the gap between rich and poor (17.9 percent) and stabilization of real estate (7.6 percent) as “policy areas which President Roh Moo-hyun should focus on in the New Year.” This means that 82 percent of the public asked the president to take care of economic and personal livelihood matters first.

Regarding the controversial private school law revision, there were slightly more people (47.1 percent) who approved the law than those who disapproved (41.9 percent). In particular, people gave vastly different opinions depending on the political parties they supported.

Many supporters of the ruling Uri Party (60.8 percent), the Millennium Democratic Party (62.0 percent) and the Democratic Labor Party (65.9 percent) approved the law, while a large proportion of supporters of the Grand National Party (57.9 percent) opposed it.

Despite the controversy surrounding Hwang Woo-suk’s stem cell research, almost half of the respondents (48.4 percent) said, “The government should continue to support the embryonic stem cell research, including Hwang’s research.” A total of 36.1 percent of those polled said, “We should continue to support embryonic stem cell research, excluding Professor Hwang” A total of 84.5 percent of the respondents said that the country should keep supporting embryonic stem cell research.

Only small numbers of those polled said, “We should stop supporting embryonic stem cell research and start supporting research in other areas, such as adult stem cells,” (8.9 percent) and “We should stop supporting all kinds of stem cell research.” (2.5 percent)

When asked about revision of the Constitution, which is expected to become a hot issue in political circles this year, more respondents (55.2 percent) said a revision is needed than respondents who said it is not necessary (40.7 percent).

Although there are voices in the political circles that say that they need to start discussions on a revision of the constitution after the local elections, the most number of respondents (39.7 percent) said, “We need to begin discussions on a constitutional revision after the presidential election in 2007.” However, when considering other responses, including, “After the local election” (27.0 percent), “The first half of 2007” (13.8 percent), and “the second half of 2007” (8.0 percent), almost half of the respondents said the country should begin the discussion within the tenure of the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

In a survey of preferences for future presidential candidates, former Prime Minister Goh Kun (24.6 percent) and Seoul City Mayor Lee Myung-bak (22.0 percent) competed for the first place. Almost equal numbers of Grand National Party supporters favored Mayor Lee (33.5 percent) and GNP Chair Park Geun-hye (33.4 percent). Goh was clearly in the lead among supporters of the Millennium Democratic Party, the Democratic Labor Party and the newly formed People First Party with a support rate of 34.6 to 51.2 percent.

The GNP took home a political approval rating of 37.3 percent, but that figure was slightly lower than the one it received in a survey conduced on November 5 (41.6 percent). By contrast, the approval rating of the Uri Party went up from 20.6 percent to 23.8 percent. The figures for the Democratic Labor Party and the Millennium Democratic Party were 12.8 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively.

Yong-Gwan Jung yongari@donga.com tesomiom@donga.com