South Korean President Yoon Invites Opposition Leader for First Meeting Amid Falling Approval

South Korean President Yoon invites opposition leader Lee to discuss state affairs, signaling a shift towards co-governance after the ruling party's election defeat.

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Nitish Verma
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South Korean President Yoon Invites Opposition Leader for First Meeting Amid Falling Approval

South Korean President Yoon Invites Opposition Leader for First Meeting Amid Falling Approval

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has invited Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung to discuss state affairs, marking their first one-on-one meeting since Yoon took office in May 2022. The meeting comes on the heels of Yoon's conservative party suffering a defeat in the recent parliamentary elections, which saw the Democratic Party secure a majority in the National Assembly.

The top agenda item for the meeting is anticipated to be Lee's proposal to provide a 250,000 won ($182) cash handout to every South Korean, a measure Yoon has previously criticized as "populism" and "druglike." Other topics likely to be discussed include the government's plan to increase the number of doctors nationwide, which has faced opposition from the medical community, as well as an investigation into the death of a Marine soldier during a rescue mission.

Yoon's decision to meet with Lee represents a significant shift in his stance, as he had been reluctant to engage with the opposition leader, who is currently facing criminal allegations. The meeting is seen as an important step towards regularizing co-governance between the president and the opposition party, which is crucial for addressing the country's challenges and uncertainties following the election results.

Why this matters: The meeting between Yoon and Lee holds the potential to bridge the political divide and foster cooperation on key issues affecting the South Korean people. It also serves as a test for Yoon's leadership and ability to navigate the new political landscape shaped by the Democratic Party's electoral victory.

The presidential office has confirmed that the meeting is being worked out, as Yoon's approval rating has dropped to a historic low of 23%. Yoon has apologized for the election defeat and accepted public sentiment, while the major parties have resorted to mudslinging on opponents. In his recent budget speech, Yoon emphasized the importance of fiscal soundness and cost of living relief.

Working-level officials from both parties are set to meet to coordinate the agenda for the upcoming summit. The Democratic Party has appointed Rep. Kim Yun-duk as its new secretary general and Rep. Jin Sung-joon as the new chief policymaker following the party's reorganization push after their victory in the general elections. Rep. Park Chan-dae, a member of the Democratic Party's Supreme Council, has also announced his bid to run for the party's floor leader, aiming to establish a "two-top system" with Chairman Lee Jae-myung leading the reforms.

Key Takeaways

  • Yoon invites DP leader Lee for first one-on-one meeting since taking office.
  • Key agenda items: cash handout, doctor increase, and soldier's death investigation.
  • Meeting seen as step towards co-governance, crucial after DP's election victory.
  • Yoon's approval rating at historic low of 23% after election defeat.
  • DP appoints new secretary general and chief policymaker after party reorganization.