The disapproval rating of President Moon Jae-in hit a record-high 61.7 percent this week, just ahead of crucial by-elections in Seoul and Busan. Photo courtesy of Presidential House

61.7% of respondents give negative assessment to Moon’s performance

Korea’s President Moon Jae-in saw his disapproval rating top 60 percent this week for the first time since his inauguration in May 2017, an opinion poll showed on January 3.

Realmeter surveyed 1,000 people aged over 18 during Jan. 1 and 2 to learn that Moon’s disapproval rating amounted to 61.7 percent, up from 59.7 percent from a week ago.

Along the same line, only 34.1 percent of respondents came up with a positive assessment of his performance compared to 36.7 percent last week.

Over the past several weeks, Moon failed to surpass the 40 percent mark in the public approval rating amid his administration’s failure to deal with the fast spread of COVID-19, surging real estate prices, and political disputes involving Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl.

South Korea was once praised as a model country in grappling with the novel coronavirus, but the daily infection soared during the past few weeks to fluctuate in the vicinity of 1,000.

The ruling Democratic Party also earned just 28.7 percent support in comparison to the main opposition People Power Party, which gained 34.2 percent.

Observers point out that the low approval rating for President Moon and the governing party is not a good sign for them ahead of the by-elections in the country’s two largest cities of Seoul and Busan in months to come.

“Officials of the ruling party might sweat as the support rating continues to head south ahead of the crucial elections,” said a political analyst in a Seoul university.

“It remains to be seen whether or not President Moon and the governing party will be able to gain in their approval rating. The fight against COVID-19 and surging property prices would be important.”