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President Yoon Suk-yeol's First 100 Days in Office Updated: 2022-08-17 09:27:56 KST

Up next in this second installment of our two-part series on President Yoon Suk-yeol's 100th day in office we walk back in time to the day of his inauguration and the events that followed over the past 100 days.
My colleague Moon Connyoung reports.

"I do solemnly swear before the people that I will faithfully execute the Office of President."

One hundred days ago, this country saw its first Prosecutor-General-turned-politician take the oath of office for presidency - a political novice who had won a close election by a margin of less than one percent the narrowest margin ever.

"I solemnly pledge today that I will do my utmost to elevate Korea into a country that truly belongs to the people. A country based on the pillars of freedom, human rights, fairness and solidarity; a country that is respected by others around the world."

"Change. Roughly one hundred days ago, South Koreans ushered in Yoon Suk-yeol as their new president with conviction that he is the one who can and will bring about the much needed change to the nation, society, their daily lives. Hundred days later, although not yet so life changing there are definitely some changes seen in different parts of the society.
For instance, up until three months ago this part of the presidential Blue House had been off-limits to the public for decades.
Now, it's open for anyone to enjoy as Mr. Yoon made good on his campaign pledge that he'd return this beautiful space embracing every bit of Korea's modern history to the Korean people."

This as the newly-elected Yoon Suk-yeol kicked off his presidency at the relocated presidential office in a former defense ministry complex in Seoul's Yongsan district.

"If I move into the Blue House compound, I think it will be harder to be free from the imperial power that is symbolic of the Blue House.

I will install a press center on the first floor of the Yongsan presidential office and frequently communicate with the press."

Almost every morning before he starts work, South Korea's new president stops to chat with a scrum of journalists camped in the lobby of his presidential office.

Are you all settled in on the first floor?

You have your desks and everything?
Looking forward to working with you, all.

Standing in front of a row of flashing cameras, boom microphones, and reporters trying to out shout one another, Yoon offers opinions on a range of issues, both serious and lighthearted.

Are you willing to meet with the opposition party once it's done forming its new leadership?

How can we be divided along partisan lines when we're faced with such difficulties?
Have a good one, everyone.

During the first hundred days in office, Yoon has held 38 so-called "doorstepping" sessions.

That compares with Park Geun-hye's seven press conferences throughout her term and even a lot more than his predecessor Moon Jae-in who entered office pledging excellent communication with the public.

Even so, President Yoon has faced a bumpy political honeymoon.

"In South Korea, usually, the trajectory of public approval is directly relevant to the time you have remaining in office. So, it means usually presidents start with a relatively high approval rating and () it usually declines as the president's time in office diminishes and as he begins to lose power.
What's a little bit interesting and different about this Yoon presidency is that he has had this early dip."

What began as an approval rating of 52 percent in his first week in office was down to 24 percent by the first week of August, or only half of the 48.6 percent he won in votes during the election.
In another poll, he saw a slight bump in the second week of August with a rating of just above 30-percent.

"There have been a lot of stories out there in particular about personnel appointments that might not necessarily be based on merit but by connections. "

"You cannot just simply decide on a policy and announce it the same day. There has to be a lot of work that goes into understanding the public. If you're going to announce a policy initiative you should do your own internal polling to figure out where the public stands. You need to work with the National Assembly because it's controlled by the opposition. You need to consider the labor aspect of this."

"The other issue, of course, is that there's been a lot of discord within the conservative camp, in particular, the party leadership. And Yoon has been caught a little in a bad look in terms of his relationship with his party."

But, every cloud has a silver lining.

"In foreign policy, Yoon has done well with the United States and has had an acceptable introduction to the international community. And he receives an incomplete on relations with Japan, China, and North Korea. () if we look at Yoon's foreign policy priorities and we look at South Korea's public opinion, it looks like Yoon is doing a lot of what the South Korean public wants and expects. "

"One of the things he's going to have to do if he wants to start to recover his approval ratings is he's going to think carefully about how to go about governing, how you go around policies and how you take into account public reaction to those policies. () If he can do that and really start to understand what this job looks like then I think he can smooth out the rest of his first year and then build into his second and third year which is going to especially important headed into the 2024 National Assembly elections."

"The issues on which the South Korean public expects performance the most are in terms of solving a lot of fundamental economic problems related to real-estate and related to jobs. The problem is that these issues that he really needs to deal with most effectively are issues that are being negatively affected by the backdrop of the global economy and in particular rising global inflation."

"South Korean presidencies have a history of ending in disgrace.
Elected in the closest election since the restoration of democracy in 1987, the political novice was chosen by the South Korean people in hopes that the prosecutor of nearly three decades will be a president unlike any of his predecessors that his lack of elected political experience would serve more of an asset than a liability.
Now, that was one hundred days ago.
The first hundred days is just a tiny fraction of a five-year South Korean presidential term.
How this nation will remember him, how history will record Yoon Suk-yeol, the 20th president of the Republic of Korea will depend on those many more one hundred days to come.
Moon Connyoung, Arirang News."
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