SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in replaced some of his senior aides on Monday as part of a shake-up aimed at jacking up approval ratings amid criticism over skyrocketing home prices.
Moon swapped out his senior secretary for political affairs, senior secretary on civil affairs, and an aide who oversees policy on civic society cooperation.
The three replaced officials are part of a team led by Moon’s chief of staff, Noh Young-min. They had offered to resign last week amid mounting criticism over housing policy.
There is speculation that Moon will also remove Noh and others in the coming days, but opposition lawmakers have called for the sacking of officials more closely responsible for the real estate policies, including Moon’s economic policy chief and the finance and land ministers.
Home prices in Seoul have soared more than 50% since 2017, the fastest pace in the world, according to statistics site Numbeo, despite more than 20 cooling policies introduced under Moon.
Moon’s approval ratings have plunged to a near nine-month low of 43.1%, wiping out an earlier surge, according to pollster Realmeter on Monday. Approval of Moon’s handling of the coronavirus crisis had help his rating reach to 64% and party clinched a landslide victory in the parliamentary election in April.
The main opposition party trailed the ruling party by just 0.5%, the smallest gap in the approval ratings during Moon’s tenure.
“The housing problem has become the most pressing issue at hand,” Moon told a meeting with senior secretaries.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)