Park's Approval Ratings Settle in Mid-50% Range

After a slow start, President Park Geun-hye now enjoys higher approval rating than her immediate predecessors Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak during the first year of their presidencies.

In a Gallup poll last week, Park's approval rating stood at 54 percent. This was lower than those of Kim Dae-joong (63 percent) and Kim Young-sam (59 percent), but vastly better than those of Roh Tae-woo (41 percent), Lee (32 percent) and Roh Moo-hyun (22 percent) during the first year of their terms.

Park scraped into office in a two-horse race after her most formidable challenger dropped out, mostly through the support of older voters, and her initial approval ratings were comparatively poor.

Support slid to 42 percent at the start of her term after a number of her nominees to key government posts had to quit amid allegations of impropriety. But since then her ratings have yo-yoed upward due to successful moves in the areas of national security and diplomacy.

By sticking to her principles in dealing with the North's unilateral closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and other provocations, Park saw her approval rating exceed 60 percent in June and rise even further to 63 percent in July after her visit to China.

It fell again to 54 percent in mid-August as she backed down on welfare pledges, then rebounded to 67 percent later when United Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki and three other members of the minor opposition party were arrested on charges of plotting to topple the government in late August and after she attended the G20 Summit in Russia in mid-September.

Since then support has been stuck in the mid-50-percent range amid lingering controversy over allegations that National Intelligence Service agents ran in online campaign trying to sway votes in her favor in the presidential election.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 19, 2013 11:42 KST