Yoon vs doctors: scapegoating works every time

Yoon vs doctors: scapegoating works every time

What should President Yoon do to improve his dismal approval rating?

A noble man君子 would seek for a reform. Fortunately, there is—and will ever be—no shortage of issues that are of national urgency: um, how about improving corporate governance and shareholder value? That’s what delivered Japanese stock market from its decades-long gloom, they say. No way will we let Japan beat us, innit?

A successful reform requires efforts. Chaebols won’t like it because it will swell up their inheritance tax burden, to say the least. Something must be given to them in return—a inheritance tax overhaul maybe? Some won’t like it because they believe it is unjust to let them pass down their fortune easily, so someone has to convince them that this is the way to go. That’s what politicians are supposed to do.

How much has Yoon learned the art of statecraft in these two years? Take a look at what happened to his Corporate Value-Up Program.

So here we are witnessing Yoon taking a different path: the way of petty man小人. Scapegoating works: who said the Koreans are the people of blanket party?


The question is whom to pick a fight with. Trade unions have been conservative’s go-to guy—or goat—for scapegoating, but they’re well organized and waging war against them will take a toll on the economy which is already grim enough.

Oh, how about doctors? Widely hated and admired—both are usually the same in Korea—for their rent, while not as much organized as trade unions, they are a easier prey.

And it paid off: Yoon enjoyed a bump in his rating last week, which was the highest in 8 months, and the dividend will keep on giving for a while.

His clumsy public health policy—increasing the national quota of medical students by 2,000 for five years—will leave a big, lasting pothole in country’s future. Such a surge in rent-seeking job opportunities means it will suck out brains from STEM, which already suffers a lack of students in the age of depopulation.

Korean public health system is disintegrating. President Moon’s populist policy aggravated the damage the peculiar private health insurance, namely medical expense insurance실손의료보험, has done to the National Health Insurance. Yoon’s policy will turn it up to eleven.

But you know what? His rating is still below 40%.

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Jamie Larson