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[News Focus] On Moon’s apartment policy, disapproval outstrips approval for 30 months

Gender gap seen in Moon’s approval ratings: polls

President Moon Jae-in (right) shakes hands with Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee during her appointment ceremony on June 21, 2017, at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in (right) shakes hands with Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee during her appointment ceremony on June 21, 2017, at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. (Yonhap)

SEJONG -- Opponents of the Moon Jae-in administration’s real estate policy have outnumbered its supporters for the past 2 1/2 years, a poll showed.

According to Gallup Korea, opposition to the administration’s real estate policy overtook support in January 2018, within months of President Moon taking office in May 2017.

In January 2018, the gap between the two sides was 10 percentage points, with 24 percent looking favorably on the policy vs. 34 percent unhappy with it.

Based on the results of at least 13 surveys the pollster has carried out since that time, it is clear that the policy’s detractors have consistently outnumbered its advocates for the past 30 months, though the gap has fluctuated. In June 2019, the gap was found to have widened to about 20 percentage points and has widened further since then.

In the latest poll, made public July 9, 2020, the gap hit an all-time high of 47 percentage points. Only 17 percent of respondents approved of the policy, whereas 64 percent disapproved.

This indicates that the majority of people are frustrated with a series of anti-speculation policies they view as ineffective, since they have not increased the housing supply in the population-dense capital. Instead, apartment prices in Seoul have skyrocketed during Moon’s term.
(Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)
(Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)

Despite the real estate measures the government announced June 17, 61 percent of the respondents predicted that housing prices would climb in the coming year, according to Gallup Korea. Only 12 percent predicted a decline.

Disapproval was strongest among those in their 50s, standing at 74 percent. Those in their 60s or over were next, with 67 percent saying they opposed the policy, followed by those in their 30s with 64 percent opposed.

Focusing on occupation, housewives and self-employed individuals expressed the most opposition: 71 percent of housewives responded that the Moon administration was “not doing well” in terms of its real estate policy, and 69 percent of self-employed respondents gave the same answer. Only 12 percent of housewives and 15 percent of self-employed respondents said the administration was “doing well.”

Largely due to his government’s real estate policy, Moon’s approval rating fell below the 50 percent mark for the first time in about four months. It posted 47 percent in the second week of July, having hit 49 percent in the third week of March.

Approval ratings for the president showed disparities along gender and regional lines.

Among men, more respondents expressed disapproval, with detractors outnumbering supporters 48 percent vs. 45 percent. The reverse was true for women, with 50 percent saying they supported Moon vs. 40 percent opposed.

Disapproval was highest among residents in the Daegu-North Gyeongsang Province region, where it stood at 61 percent. Next was the region comprising Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province, where disapproval was 50 percent; and Seoul, where it was 47 percent.

Approval was highest, 79 percent, among residents in Gwangju and the Jeolla provinces. Next was the region comprising Sejong, Daejeon and the Chungcheong provinces, where it was 52 percent.

According to the National Barometer Survey, jointly conducted by four pollsters on 2,000 people and made public July 15, 70 percent of the respondents expressed disapproval toward the real estate policy. Only 21 percent were in favor of it.

In the employment and job creation sector, detractors of the policy outnumbered advocates 59 percent vs. 33 percent.

Meanwhile, the poll showed, people have a favorable view of the government’s quarantine measures in response to the novel coronavirus. When respondents were asked about its countermeasures to the pandemic, approval outstripped disapproval 85 percent vs. 13 percent.

Unlike the Gallup Korea poll, the National Barometer Survey suggested that Moon’s overall approval rating still hovered over the 50 percent mark (53 percent).

But the latter poll also showed gender and regional disparities.

Only 32 percent of those in the area comprising Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province said they supported Moon, while 52 percent expressed disapproval.

By Kim Yon-se (