South Korean president’s approval rating hits record low

Park Geun-hye’s approval plummets to 4 per cent as scandal threatens administration

A demonstator holds candle with placard reading ‘Park Geun-Hye Out’ during a rally on Thursday. Photograph: EPA

A demonstator holds candle with placard reading ‘Park Geun-Hye Out’ during a rally on Thursday. Photograph: EPA

 

Park Geun-hye’s approval rating has plummeted to a record-low of 4 per cent as a graft and influence-peddling scandal threatens the South Korean president’s administration.

Ms Park’s approval rating is the lowest ever for a democratically elected leader in South Korea, according to the findings of a Gallup poll published by the Yonhap news agency, while 93 per cent expressed discontent on her job performance.

South Korean investigators are currently trying to question Ms Park as part of an investigation into her spiritual adviser and close confidante, Choi Soon-sil.

Ms Choi has been indicted on suspicion of using her relationship with the president to acquire 77.4 billion won (€62 million) in donations for her foundations by putting pressure on some of South Korea’s biggest “chaebols”, or industrial conglomerates.

This week has seen raids on the offices of giant carmaker Hyundai and the retail giant Lotte.

Pressure is growing on Ms Park, whose five-year term ends in February 2018 but is fighting to stay in South Korea’s presidential office, the Blue House, and has apologised twice over the affair.

Yonhap reports that at least 40 politicians from her Saenuri Party support her impeachment.

The opposition is planning an impeachment motion up for vote in early December, which would need the support of at least 28 Saenuri parliamentarians to meet the minimum requirement of 200 votes out of the 300-seat National Assembly.

However, the party’s floor leader Chung Jin-suk said it did not back opposition plans to pass the impeachment motion before the current parliamentary session ends on December 9th, as holding an election too early would damage the parliament’s legitimacy.

Crisis

Mr Chung called for an “orderly” political solution to this crisis. “It is more righteous to focus on next year’s budget plan and parliamentary investigation (into the scandal) during this period,” he said.

According to the Gallup poll, Ms Park’s support was non-existent in South Koreans in their 20s and 30s, while the approval rating stood at 9 per cent among those aged 60 and older.

In September 2013, she had an approval reading of 67 per cent. More than a million people are expected to gather for protests in downtown Seoul for the fifth weekend in a row, in what are the biggest public demonstrations seen in South Korea since the 1980s.

Their number will include about a thousand farmers, which has sparked fears of a clash with police.

Meanwhile, North Korea is keen to build up propaganda efforts to capitalise on the political crisis in its bitter southern rival.

The state radio station has broadcast a string of mysterious numbers, believed to be a coded message to its secret agents operating in South Korea.

For the fourth time this month, Radio Pyongyang started to read a series of book pages and numbers about an hour after midnight (Seoul time). The content was the exact same as that broadcast on November 11th.