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Patchy reform and feeble cabinet reshuffle are not enough to win popularity

Patchy reform and feeble cabinet reshuffle are not enough to win popularity

Posted August. 15, 2020 07:36,   

Updated August. 15, 2020 07:36


South Koreans’ dissatisfaction is growing due to the government’s failed real estate policies and one-sided conducting of state affairs. According to the survey results published by Gallup Korea on Friday, only 39 percent of respondents said they support how President Moon Jae-in handles state affairs, which is the lowest figure since the president took the office. Just four months after the sweeping victory of the ruling party at the general election on April 15, people are quickly turning their backs on the administration.

The failure of real estate policies that have led to a rapid increase in both housing sales prices and lump-sum lease prices is the biggest factor behind the recent development. As lump-sum lease supply is decreasing while the supply of what’s known as “half lump-sum lease,” which requires a fairly large amount of deposit with monthly rent, is on the rise, people experiencing the increased burden of housing expenses have become very doubtful of the policy capabilities of the government, which had confidently talked about how it would control real estate prices. Meanwhile, President Moon and ruling party members are praising themselves by citing only favorable statistics and saying that real estate prices are stabilizing and that the country’s growth projection for this year is the highest among 37 OECD member countries.

There was a sliver of hope for government reform as Chief of Staff Noh Young-min and five senior presidential secretaries who triggered people’s anger about real estate policies offered to resign on August 7. However, it turned out to be all for nothing as only a few senior secretaries were replaced while Noh remains in the office.

As public sentiment keeps getting worse, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said it is considering moving up the date of a cabinet shuffle. According to a source, however, only Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo who has kept his position since the launch of the current administration and Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo who was criticized for the failure of coastal surveillance will be replaced, excluding those who were responsible for people’s dissatisfaction, namely Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kim Hyun-mee who is in charge of real estate measures, Minister of Economy and Finance Hong Nam-ki who oversees economic policies, and Chief Presidential Secretary for Policy Kim Sang-jo. It is a critical mistake to believe that such a feeble cabinet reshuffle will be enough to win public sentiment.

President Moon even openly supported Minister Hong for playing an excellent role as an economic control tower. While a drastic personnel reform and policy direction change are required to calm people’s anger, the president and Cheong Wa Dae are stuck in a misconception to continue to push the existing policy direction without admitting their failures.

The current administration has served about two-thirds of its term with only one year and nine months left. Given that the next presidential election will begin in full gear from the second half of next year, remaining time for the administration to do practical work is less than a year. The only way for the administration to be successful is to conduct all-out personnel reform with a sense of emergency and determination to form the last cabinet in reality.