The public poll season has returned ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays in early February. And the nation has effectively entered campaign mode as less than three months remain until the general election.
The April 13 election holds great significance, as it is the last chance for nationwide voters to express their evaluation of the three-year performances of President Park Geun-hye and before the 2017 presidential election.
A recent survey by Gallup Korea is noteworthy, as it displayed the wide disparity between young people and the nation’s seniors as to whether to support President Park Geun-hye’s state affairs. It was conducted last week with 1,005 sample citizens at random across the country.
The poll showed that Park’s approval rating among respondents in their 50s and 60s and over came to 59 percent and 75 percent, respectively.
But approval for the president stood at only 20 percent for those in their 20s, and 19 percent in their 30s supported her performance. Nearly 70 percent of those aged between 19 and 39 years old said the president was “not doing well.”
The distrust was similar among middle-aged voters, with her approval ratings among citizens in their 40s standing at 33 percent — lagging behind negative answers of 55 percent.
To sum up, the majority of citizens aged under 50 don’t support her policies or performance.
Discontent among younger generations could be traced to her lack of communication with the public.
One of the latest examples is Park’s push to reintroduce the state-authored national history textbooks for all teenage students, despite serious objections from across society. She has reiterated the move is aimed at instilling the “proper historical philosophy” in students, rather than offering convincible reasons.
She claims that most current history textbooks authored by private publishing firms are skewed to the left. In that case, she should have paved the way for historians, teachers and other pundits to debate the detailed contents of the books amid the clash between supporters and opponents.
It would be hard for many citizens to find logical reasons as to why the books should be revised during Park’s tenure.
Young Koreans also seem to be more uneasy about the government’s unilateral agreement with Japan over the wartime sex slavery, as other previous surveys show.
The low approval rating could also be a natural consequence of the country’s economic performance. The high youth jobless rate has frustrated job seekers, and purchasing an apartment has become pie-in-the-sky for a large portion of salaried workers in their 30s and 40s.
Younger people’s distrust in politics is estimated to have grown due to Cheong Wa Dae’s lopsided policies. Their cynicism toward politics and politicians is shown in their low voter turnout — compared to those in their 50s or over — in recent elections.
Apart from Park and the Saenuri lawmakers, the opposition also cannot avoid responsibility for failing to offer hope to younger voters.