Seoul president facing heat for ignoring economy in favor of wooing N. Korea

by WorldTribune Staff, October 29, 2018

Critics say liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-In is prioritizing improved relations with North Korea to the detriment of his own country’s economy.

South Korean President Moon Jae-In. / EPA via Yonhap

According to Bank of Korea projections, South Korea will only create 90,000 jobs in 2018, down from its initial estimation of 180,000 in July, due to corporate restructuring and a services industry downturn.

Rep. Yoo Seong-Min of the Bareunmirae Party, in the latest National Assembly audit, slammed Moon for “ruining” the economy.

Yoo said the president’s advisers are “arrogant,” being “blinded by self-righteousness” over Moon’s labor-only policy, even though data show the policy has put many self-employed out of business and destroyed jobs.

Yoo has also criticized the administration for tampering with the central bank’s independence over its rate policy, The Korea Times reported on Oct. 29.

Moon and his economic team, led by Finance Minister Kim Dong-Yeon and presidential chief policy adviser Jang Ha-Sung, are increasingly coming under fire for their alleged lack of interest in saving the economy while being fixated on North Korea.

The South’s composite leading indicator (CLI), which measures the future of an economic cycle over six to nine months, has declined for 17 consecutive months.

“The Moon administration needs to change his team and give full responsibility to a single person who can make decisions and carry out policies after taking into account all factors such as business and labor,” said Yun Chang-Hyun, an economist at the University of Seoul. “This should be done as the first step toward restoring confidence amid warning signs of an impending crisis. Otherwise, the economy will be in deeper trouble in 2019.”

Analysts say the poor economy will negatively affect Moon’s ruling party and the administration at the national elections in 2020.

“The failure of key economic policies would cost the government ahead of the 2020 elections as voters are more concerned about their livelihoods,” said Park So-Yeon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities.

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