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Support for South Korea’s Moon hits record high after summit

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (R) pose for a photo during their summit in the Peace House building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in sat down to a historic summit on April 27 after shaking hands over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries in a gesture laden with symbolism. / AFP PHOTO / Korea Summit Press Pool / Korea Summit Press Pool

President Moon Jae-in is enjoying record support from the South Korean public in the wake of a historic summit with his North Korean counterpart, pollsters said Thursday.

More than three in four voters approved of Moon, according to pollster Realmeter — an all-time high for any South Korean president at the end of their first year in office.

Realmeter said the result reflected “mounting public expectations for the North’s denuclearisation and the establishment of peace on the Korean peninsula” following Moon’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday.

The president’s support rose more than eight points to 78.3 percent in the week following the summit, where the two leaders agreed to work towards a permanent peace treaty.

Since his May 2017 election, Moon had projected a stable and down-to-earth style while communicating closely with voters, Jeong Han-wool of public opinion firm Hankook Research told AFP.

“Moon’s approval ratings, which were relatively low around the end of last year, surged back up following the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics,” he said.

North Korea sent athletes, supporters, an art troupe and high-level officials to the Olympics, initiating a flurry of diplomatic gestures that culminated in last week’s summit.

Jeong said Moon’s popularity was likely to continue through next month’s local elections, which Moon’s ruling Democratic Party is widely tipped to dominate.

The centre-left party enjoyed the support of nearly 55 percent of the electorate in the latest Realmeter poll, while the conservative Liberty Korea Party had less than 18 percent support, shedding more than three percent since last week.

Support for the opposition has flatlined since former presidents Park Geun-hye and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak were embroiled in massive corruption cases. Both former leaders are now in jail.


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