[Issue] May 2014 / Vol 2. No. 5 – CCEJ Opinion
A Year of Park Geun-Hye Governance—The State of the Nation 
Yu Aeji
Officer, Political Reform & Civil legislation Team
February 25th, 2014, was the one year anniversary of President Park’s inauguration. Her presidency launched with a slogan hailing communication and unity, and other political promises. However, conditions have worsened on several fronts, with regional disputes, social inequality increasing, generational division, and ideological differences becoming more pronounced.

When President Park won the election, she spoke often of economic democratization and welfare expansion, yet one year later, there has been nothing to show for all of the campaign rhetoric. Besides reneging on her campaign commitments, she has continually ignored the voice of the people and made countless administrative decisions without any apparent input from outside or dissenting voices, and lead the nation behind closed doors. 

Despite talk of a ‘united nation’, Park’s government has ignored and closed down opposition under the guise of the Jong-Buk doctrine which is a pro-North Korean sentiment held by some. She has tried to reject opposition through this Jong-Buk claim and has also sought to mobilize an older generation of hard-liners. So, although President Park’s has little to show for her first year in relation to campaign promises, her approval ratings remain around 50% due to her playing the Jong-Buk card as a wedge tactic.

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President Park’s administration also appears less and less sustainable as each day passes. Public opinion is increasingly turning sour on her. In March 2013, her unfavorable rating was at 19%, but one year later, in January 2014, it stood at 39%. If this trend continues into her third year, the public will likely feel exhausted by her neglect. If her administration becomes a lame-duck administration, and the opposition continues its sluggish performance ratings, the public is likely to disengage altogether, feeling distrustful of an inept political establishment. 

Overall, the first year of President Park’s leadership is evaluated as a failure. The first year of any administration is considered to be the most important in driving the national agenda, yet she has lost that. In order to rebuild some of the lost trust and to avoid a lame duck administration, President Park must lead her government by demonstrating flexibility, the ability to compromise, and being process oriented. President Park should stop her inclination towards self-righteous, authoritarian policy making, and seek mutual agreements in governing. It is time for her to accept the criticism, communicate with the people, adjust her politics accordingly, and avoid the divisiveness of Jong-Buk politics altogether.