By Kang Seung-woo

Amid growing allegations over her aides’ acceptance of illegal political funds, President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating has tumbled below 40 percent for the first time in five weeks, a poll revealed Monday.

Ratings of the ruling party, whose members are involved in the corruption scandal, also fell sharply.

According to a Realmeter survey, President Park’s approval rating fell to 39.7 percent, 21 percentage points lower than last week.

It is the first time her approval rating has been under 40 percent since the first week of March, when it was 39.3 percent.

Last week, Keangnam Enterprises former chairman Sung Woan-jong died in an apparent suicide, leaving a note naming politicians who allegedly accepted bribes from him

Notable on the list are President Park’s former chiefs of staff Huh Tae-yeol and Kim Ki-choon, incumbent Lee Byung-kee, Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo and South Gyeongsang Province Governor Hong Joon-pyo. All denied the allegations.

What is worse for Park is that the latest poll shows that 33.3 percent strongly oppose her as against only 11. 4 percent support. In addition, Park is highly polarizing, with only 43 percent of Seoul residents approving of her, compared with 14. 5 percent from Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province _ the stronghold of the President and the ruling Saenuri Party.

Approval for the governing party plunged to a three-year low at 33. 8 percent as against 37.2 percent the week before.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) polled 29.6 percent. The previous lowest approval for the party was 32.6 percent in February 2012.

The poll also showed that NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in is favorite among potential candidates in the next presidential election.

Moon, who lost narrowly to President Park in the 2012 edition, had support of 27. 5 percent, leading for the 13th straight week. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and Saenuri chief Kim Moo-sung rounded out the top three with 11. 3 percent and 10.7 percent respectively.

SOURCE: The Korea Times