President Moon Jae-in apologized to the nation on the Christmas Day on Dec. 25, 2020 for causing the nation ‘inconvenience and confusion’ over the suspension of duties of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, which was initiated and carried out by Minister of Justice Madam Choo Mi-ae.
According to Presidential Spokesman Kang Min-seok, President Moon stated that he respected the decision of the court on Dec. 24 ruling that Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl return to his post.
Yoon won the injunction against the Justice Ministry's decision to suspend his duties for two months over a series of alleged misdeeds, including surveillance of the judiciary.
In fact, it was a conflict caused by Justice Minister Choo, which she eventually lost and made possible the return of Yoon to his post.
In the opinion of many people in Korea Minister Choo has been an ‘unbearable’ burden on President Moon and his government during the all-but emotionally escalated ‘war’ between her and Yoon.
Throughout the whole period of the conflict between Choo and Yoon, it appears that Yoon continued to keep low-profile but at the same time firmly determined to keep his job obviously from his belief that “I should not be shoved out of my job for things I haven’t done!”
Throughout the whole period of conflict between Choo and Yoon for the past one year—beginning on Jan. 2 this year shortly after Choo’s appointment as justice minister.
Shortly after her appointment, she carried out on January 8 a reshuffle of the key members of the Office of the Prosecutor and, on the following day on January 9, she appeared at the National Assembly Committee of Law and Judicature and bluntly declared, “The Prosecutor General does not heed my orders! Everything would be alright if only he would obey my orders, which, however, he doesn’t!”
Yoon resumed working immediately on the Christmas Day after the Seoul court ruled in his favor in an injunction suit he filed against a two-month suspension of his duty.
The decision has obviously dealt a severe blow to Justice Minister Choo who has been leading the charge for disciplinary measures against Yoon. The series of developments caused by Choo are considered to have caused a tremendous scale of political setback to President Moon Jae-in.
Inexplicably, President Moon has been seen as if he were turning a blind eye to the growing discontent in the public against the acts of Choo.
When one errs, it is best to apologize and try to correct oneself. President Moon appears to be very well aware of this. He won high marks following his recent public apology over the development of situation involving Choo and Yoon.
The public opinion was generally in favor of the court decision to effect the return of Yoon to his duty. The people in effect ordered the Moon government and his ruling Democratic Party of Korea to humbly accept the judiciary decision and stop its attempt to fire Yoon through the use of ‘excessive’ measures.
Under Yoon's leadership, the Prosecution is expected to speed up investigations into diverse corruption cases involving Moon's confidants and corrupt politicians including the alleged rigging of the election for the Ulsan mayor, the suspicious reports that led to the closing of the Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor, and the Lime and Optimus financial fraud cases.
Against this backdrop, a professional opinion survey organization, Real Meter, conducted and disclosed an opinion survey on December 21-23 on President Moon’s performance. It indicated President Moon’s approval rating as 37.4% as a result of a survey conducted on a total of 1,505 persons above the age of 18.
At this juncture, Korean-language media, “News 1,” recently quoted Director Choi Jin of the Institute of Presidential Leadership as saying: “The approval rating of President Moon Jae-in normally bounced back to the 40% level even if it had fallen below 30% range, but the negative rating which brought down the popularity rating below near to the 60% level for four consecutive weeks might be construed as a ‘danger sign’ for President Moon.”
Then it said that there are strong possibilities that the approval rating could go down further instead of recovering.
In contrast with this prediction, however, Moon’s approval rating rose a little on the subsequent survey on December 14 and 18.
It showed a slight decrease of the disapproval rating from the previous rating of 58.2% to 57.7%. Approval rating, in contrast, rose to 36.7% to 39.5%
It appears that what has been causing the increase of his disapproval rating and he seems to do all he could to reverse the situation.
Then what does President Moon have to do to improve his popularity rating from the people?
Korean-language daily, Kyunghyang Shinmoon, which is generally classified to be more in favor of the government policies than many other independent dailies and media, suggested editorially on December 25 that President Moon should try to carry out an overall reform in all spheres of the state administration and start all over again, including the reform of the Prosecution as envisaged at the beginning of his term.