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Minor tweaks never make things better

Posted August. 15, 2022 07:26,   

Updated August. 15, 2022 07:26


South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol commemorates the 100th day of his inauguration this Wednesday. The president plans to deliver a message to the public to gather momentum for governance in a commemorative speech of Liberation Day on Aug. 15 and a press conference to mark the 100th day of his presidential term. It is seemingly intending to increase his approval ratings, which has recently dropped to the 20 percent range, and make a turnaround. In fact, the ruling People Power Party is still going through political discord and conflict. Former party leader Lee Jun-seok has directed bare criticism at President Yoon and political leaders of his closest circles, pointing out that his leadership is at risk.

The president normally makes a self-assessment of achievements and reforms and looks closely at what to do for the next steps around the 100th day of his or her inauguration. By contrast, President Yoon is in a position to weigh various plans for revamps and, in effect, feel the need to start from scratch. At first, his presidency got off to a good start by relocating the presidential office to the Yongsan area and leading a landslide victory in the Jun 1 local elections. However, good days were gone in an instant, giving way to a free fall and chaos amid a series of controversy over the administration’s preference for nominees related to the prosecution, personnel selections based on personal connections in the presidential office, power struggles in the ruling party, the exposure of President Yoon’s private text messages, policy directions with a lack of careful consideration met with public opposition and improper remarks by PPP lawmakers. All of this only provides President Yoon with every reason for having to write a letter of apology rather than celebrate his first 100 days.

President Yoon is to blame for getting poorly ready to serve his presidential term as a newbie in the political arena. At first, he said confidently with much fuss, “We are different from the previous administration,” which, however, has not brought any tangible change to lives of citizens. For example, standing in front of reporters right before work every morning with a strong determination to communicate with the public, he only ended up taking advantage of the session to pass the buck to someone else with rough remarks. In response, the public showed disappointment and anger to cause the administration to see a drop in approval ratings within the shortest period of time ever.

Although President Yoon is expected to show new directions in governance in his celebratory speech on Liberation Day and a press conference for the 100th day of his term, observations about the ruling party only raise doubts over whether he looks squarely at the ongoing crisis. Despite awareness of the need to change a mindset and perspectives across President Yoon and his advisors, they seem still mired in a state of panic. There are no signs of any fundamental change. The government promises to change personnel partially and make an organizational revamp to supplement aiding staffers. However, only shallow tweaks do never make any difference.

Lee’s reckless remarks full of pent-up anger in a press conference last Saturday are not likely to win the ruling party’s heart as his message is obviously considered loaded with bad intentions to throw a wrench into the works just four days before the administration’s 100th day. Having said that, his message is worth noticing in some sense given that he raised issues with the Yoon administration and the ruling party and called for a political shift to represent a wider range of citizens rather than an exclusive group of far-right wingers and a solid relationship between the government and the ruling party. It is obviously a make-or-break time for them. Now is the time to listen carefully to any bitter but useful advice with modesty.