The Korea Herald


Yoon's approval rating edges up after 6-day trip to New York

President silent on opposition leader's possible arrest

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : Sept. 25, 2023 - 15:00

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President Yoon Suk Yeol presides over a Cabinet meeting in his office in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol presides over a Cabinet meeting in his office in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized his diplomatic outreach with 47 heads of state during his trip to New York last week and amplified commitments to boost government assistance at a Cabinet meeting Monday.

These diplomatic efforts are expected to lay a cornerstone for enhancing energy infrastructure using atomic and hydrogen power in countries vulnerable to climate change and boosting the international community's access to digital infrastructure, he said.

During the livestreamed meeting, Yoon also reiterated a pledge he made during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week to double South Korea's overseas development assistance budget in 2024 compared with that of 2019, and to allocate an additional $300 million in green government aid.

Yoon said the aid will increase the likelihood of Korean businesses reaching the international market.

"Recipients benefitting from our government aid will open the ways for Korean companies to enter a larger market, and Korean citizens will be provided with more decent business opportunities and quality jobs," Yoon said.

Such meetings involved Yoon drumming up support for Busan's bid to host the World Expo in 2030 in a forthcoming election during the Bureau International des Expositions at the General Assembly in late November, Yoon added.

Meanwhile, a Realmeter poll released Monday showed that Yoon's approval rating rose slightly by 2.3 percentage points to 37.8 percent, thanks to his handling of foreign affairs issues during his six-day trip to the United States until Saturday. According to the poll, the ratio of those who disapproved of Yoon fell 2.8 percentage points to 59 percent.

Realmeter analyst Bae Chul-ho noted that the uptick in public approval was due to Yoon's handling of foreign affairs during his trip to New York.

"Yoon's actions to promote Busan's bid to host the World Expo, and his inclusion of economic affairs (in his UN General Assembly speech), alongside comments about regional security and ideology were also positive factors," Bae said.

Over the past few months, Yoon's approval rating has hovered at between 35-40 percent.

Yoon, on the other hand, remained silent over the potential arrest of main opposition Democratic Party of Korea leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung.

Yoon's beleaguered political enemy faces a number of white-collar crime allegations during his time as a mayor and a governor of Gyeonggi Province. Lee will appear at the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday to attend a judicial review of his arrest warrant.

On Sunday, Yoon's spokesperson declined to clarify Yoon's position over the matter, saying the presidential office "cannot speak about ongoing investigations or criminal court trials."

The presidential office has maintained its no comment policy on Lee's criminal allegations -- such as bribery, breach of trust and election law violation -- since Yoon took office.

Notably, Yoon's office earlier in September blasted two Korean news outlets for running "fake news" stories that allegedly defamed the president. Yoon's office claimed that one of them was "a political maneuver" to hold Yoon accountable for Lee's alleged involvement in the Daejang-dong (land corruption) scandal. The statement later followed a search and seizure operation of the news outlets that ran stories about Yoon.

Yoon also did not bring up a motion to dismiss Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, in an apparent bid to neglect the motion passed by the Democratic Party-controlled parliament.

Yoon's spokesperson said Sunday in a briefing that Yoon had already shown his willingness not to sack Han before the public eye, by having him hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping "for the benefit of the nation." Yoon has the power to dismiss the motion without going through a formal veto process.