Returning from vacation, President Yoon Suk-yeol was all about ‘going back to the basics.’ President Yoon promised on Monday that he would ‘pay attention to public opinion, go back to the basics and stay faithful to the hopes of the people.’ He mentioned ‘perspective of the people’ regarding personnel appointment innovation and said that measures would be taken as necessary. Education Minister Park Soon-ae is expected to step down.
However, President Yoon continues to remain negative on large-scale personnel reform, on grounds that a major reshuffle in just three months into the inauguration may cause other trials and errors. Most likely, the change would stay limited, removing only Minister Park and requesting other cabinet members to stay vigilant.
The current crisis can be described as unprecedented, at the least. Public trust towards the president and the cabinet is diminishing. Public support rate, which stood around 50 percent at President Yoon’s inauguration, has dropped by half. It is not as if President Yoon has carried out major reform and met with resistance. President Yoon would be greatly mistaken if thinking that he would win the people by simply removing Minister Park and working harder.
Majority of the people believe that President Yoon himself is to blame for his low support rate, particularly his failure in personnel appointment. Most of the cabinet members are former public prosecutors or from the Finance Ministry, those who share the same background as President Yoon. News has it that he has appointed personal connections or children of friends to work at the presidential office. There is no way for the president to save waning support rate without taking a hard look at his own actions.
President Yoon needs to understand that diminishing public support is not a result of lacking public promotion. Many of his aides, however, say that the lack of public awareness on the government's new policies or the opposition party are to blame. None of his aides advise President Yoon on issues regarding the First Lady. Perhaps that is why the administration has dismissed poor support rates as ‘insignificant’ or ‘better than the previous administration.’
President Yoon has said that he is planning to focus on fine turning government policy rather than carrying out personnel reform. Government policy is very important, but political affairs should also be in order. The president needs to show the public that he is aware of the situation and willing to make changes. The presidential office, the cabinet and the ruling party are all facing serious challenges. Major reshuffle is needed before 100 days of the inauguration, or before Chuseok holidays.