South Korea President Moon Jae-in delivered a special speech and held a press conference to celebrate the fourth anniversary of his inauguration. It was his last opportunity to explain the achievements and mistakes made in the past four years under his leadership and ask for the public’s cooperation for the remaining year of his term, although it was practically an announcement of ‘his way.’ The only reflection he shared was his plan to partially adjust the real estate policy by indirectly mentioning that he faced grave judgment that awakened him with the results of by-elections on April 7.
For neither the real estate issue nor the lack of quality jobs for young people and COVID-19 vaccine shortage, President Moon did not express a single hint of apology. Rather, he said there are certain behaviors that increase anxiety and cause conflicts and division in the face of crisis. As he believes there is nothing wrong with the direction of how the current administration handles state affairs, he is not willing to change it and blamed the opposition party and press that criticize him for vaccines and other issues.
This observation is in line with his long explanation about why he allowed the appointment of certain ‘unqualified’ nominees for ministers, saying that the objection of the opposition party does not mean a failed verification. While it is understandable that he has a lot on his plate to consider as an authority over such appointments, he only has to accept the raised suspicions about a nominee taking her entire family to overseas academic seminars in tourist cities or another nominee importing a large amount of European ceramics, rather than expressing his discomfort. His comment that the prosecution seems not afraid of the power of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae regarding Cheong Wa Dae’s suspected involvement in the election for the mayor of Ulsan or investigation about the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant and another comment that a large amount of text messages sent by pro-Moon hardliners is a natural phenomenon shows a gap between the president’s understanding of the current political situation and the public’s.
Regarding the pardon of two former Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye and Vice Chairman of Samsung Lee Jae-yong, President Moon denied that it is a matter that can be decided easily by a president and avoided the issue by mentioning how it may affect the unification of people, judicial justice, and a consensus among people. With regards to the leaflets sent to North Korea, he said it is not desirable to pour cold water on the inter-Korean relationship. He has not changed much from his previous stance.
Amid the crisis of a global pandemic, countries are striving for their own survival. While President Moon said all judgment shall be left to people and history but the current is what matters. If he fails to escape from the dogma that “people on my side and I are right” and insist on his way for the remaining year, he will not be able to pull national capabilities together.