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Nomination debacles dent Park’s ratings

President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating dropped below her disapproval rating for the first time, dragged down by the growing controversy over her personnel choices.

In the Gallup Korea poll for the third week of June, Park’s approval rating came in at 43 percent while the disapproval rating clocked in at 48 percent. In comparison, her approval and disapproval ratings respectively stood at 47 percent and 43 percent in the previous week.

The rise in Park’s disapproval rating is fueled by her controversial personnel choices, the latest of which, Prime Minister-designate Moon Chang-keuk, has been met with widespread opposition. As the controversy expands, Park has said that she will review his nomination after she returns from her tour of Central Asia on Saturday. 
President Park Geun-hye
President Park Geun-hye

Moon, a former journalist, came under fire immediately after being named for the post over his controversial comments regarding historical issues including Japan’s colonization of Korea and its sexual enslavement of women.

Although Moon is facing increasing pressure to withdraw his nomination, he remains firm on staying on at least until the parliamentary confirmation hearing, where he hopes to clear his name.

On Thursday, Moon told reporters that he “heart-achingly” wanted to take after independence fighters Ahn Jung-geun and Ahn Chang-ho in an apparent attempt to shake off the pro-Japanese label.

With Moon remaining firm, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy is making an issue of other candidates picked for the Cabinet.

“A prime minister who can never be accepted in the international community, NIS chief who raises the question that (the administration) plans to make the NIS worse, and an education minister who plagiarized his thesis, these three are simply unqualified,” NPAD cochairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo said.

The National Intelligence chief nominee Lee Byung-kee has been implicated in a number of irregularities including an illegal political funding scandal, while Education Minister Kim Myung-soo is accused of plagiarizing a thesis written by one of his students.

As for the ruling Saenuri Party, its leadership is avoiding taking an official stance on Moon though party chairman-hopeful Rep. Sun Chung-won continued to pile on the pressure.

“(Moon) needs to realize that he is not the prime minister the people want,” Suh said in a radio interview citing a study conducted by the Saenuri Party’s think-tank. The study estimates that 71 percent of the public disapproves of Moon. Suh, a seven-term lawmaker with close ties to the president, declined to comment on whether Park will be forced to retract Moon’s nomination.

“A prime minister cannot serve his duties without the trust of the people, so I think (Moon) making a decision (to withdraw) is the best solution.”

By Choi He-suk (