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Moon’s approval ratings lowest in 9 months

President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in’s approval ratings fell to their lowest point in nine months, a poll suggested.

The latest dip in ratings comes days after the mayor of Seoul killed himself amid allegations of sexual misconduct. At the same time, property tax hikes and a policy to grant permanent job status to irregular workers at state-funded companies drew backlash from homeowners and from those studying for tests in hopes of landing stable public sector jobs.

The ruling Democratic Party’s approval rating also fell to the mid-30 percent range, narrowing the gap between the two major parties to within a margin of error for the first time since the main opposition party changed its name in February.

Approval of Moon’s job performance tumbled 4.6 percentage points from a week ago to 44.1 percent this week, according to a poll of 1,510 South Koreans conducted by Realmeter from Monday through Wednesday.

This is the lowest figure in nine months -- since the second week of October last year, when former Justice Minister Cho Kuk stood at the center of a nationwide controversy over allegations that his wife fabricated documents to help her children get into good schools. His family was also suspected of taking part in illegal business dealings.

Negative appraisals of Moon climbed 5.2 percentage points to 51.7 percent, the highest since the Cho Kuk scandal dominated the news cycle in the first week of November last year (52.2 percent).

The difference between the number of positive and negative assessments of the president stood at 7.6 percentage points, which is beyond the margin of error.

It was the first time since the second week of March that negative ratings overtook positive ratings, and the first time since the fourth week of February that they surpassed positive ratings by more than the margin of error.

“When positive and negative appraisals intersect, there is usually a period when they are neck and neck for a while, but there was no such period of adjustment this time,” Realmeter said.

On Monday, while the poll was being conducted, a former secretary of the late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon held a press conference accusing him of sexually harassing her for four years. This is believed to have influenced public opinion among women, voters in their 30s and voters in Seoul.

Among women, positive appraisals of Moon tumbled 7.9 percentage points. For men, they declined 1.3 percentage points.

The number of positive ratings from people in their 30s plunged 13.9 percentage points, contributing to Moon’s poor overall score.

Negative appraisals from 30-somethings jumped 16.1 percentage points.

The Democratic Party’s approval rating stood at 35.4 percent, down 4.3 percentage points from a week ago and the lowest since the second week of October.

The United Future Party garnered support from 31.1 percent of respondents, followed by 5.8 percent for the Justice Party, 5 percent for the People’s Party and 4.7 percent for the Open Minjoo Party.

By Kim So-hyun (