SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in called Saturday for an unswerving reform drive despite a falling approval rating and controversies over his economic policy.

He was speaking at an unprecedented gathering of all ruling party lawmakers, Cabinet members and presidential officials.

It came two days after Moon's first Cabinet shake-up to replace five ministers, including the defense chief and the top education policymaker.

Late last month, the Democratic Party of Korea picked Rep. Lee Hae-chan, a seven-term lawmaker, as its new leader.

"The task of the times that we have to achieve together is clear," Moon said at the meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae.

It's to create a fair and just country through strong and constant reform measures, widely dubbed the "liquidation of past malpractices."

He pointed out that South Korea is at a time of a "grand shift."

He stressed the need for addressing the gap between the haves and have-nots via an appropriate distribution policy and promoting the co-prosperity between South and North Korea on the basis of denuclearization and a peace regime.

To that end, the president said, Cheong Wa Dae, the ruling party and the government should make concerted efforts.

Moon, in particular, cited negative side effects from South Korea's growth-oriented approach in the past, such as widening income disparity and misconducts by some vested powers.

Inter-Korean relations were once broken and the cloud of war was cast over Korea, he said.

The time when the people publicly asked about "whether South Korea is a (desirable) country" is the very starting point of the Moon government, he said.

The head of the ruling party said what's important for now is to win the parliamentary ratification of the April 27 inter-Korean summit accord.

Now that state budgets are necessary to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, the National Assembly's formal consent on it is needed for smooth implementation, Lee said.

Moon's approval rating recently dropped below 60 percent, according to opinion polls.

His economic policy, especially the income-driven growth, has drawn fierce protests from opposition parties and other critics.

The main opposition, conservative Liberty Korea Party is opposed to ratifying the summit agreement, saying denuclearization is more urgent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency