SEOUL, Rival parties gave a mixed assessment Wednesday of President Moon Jae-in's first year in office as his effort to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula is being overshadowed by a job market that remains tepid.
Moon took office on May 10 last year after his conservative predecessor Park Geun-hye was ousted in March over a corruption scandal.
He has become the first liberal president in nearly a decade, seeking to engage with North Korea. Moon held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27 after more than a year of heightened tensions sparked by the North's nuclear and missile provocations.
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) highlighted Moon's efforts to bring peace to the peninsula as one of the president's key achievements.
"People of the two Koreas and Koreans living abroad greatly welcomed the joint summit declaration. They are giving support to Moon's peace effort," said Kim Hyun, a spokeswoman at the DP.
Rapprochement on the peninsula helped Moon's approval rating to rise to 83 percent, a survey by Gallup Korea showed last week.
During the summit, Moon and Kim reaffirmed the goal of "complete" denuclearization of the North and agreed to seek more inter-Korean exchanges.
Opposition parties also gave a positive evaluation of the Koreas' summit, but lashed out at Moon's economic policy as job creation remains weak.
Moon has put a policy priority on "income-led growth," which calls for a virtuous circle of increasing household income and spending.
As part of such efforts, the government hiked the minimum wage by 16.4 percent to 7,530 won (US$6.97) this year, the biggest rise in about two decades. But the move is having the unintended effect of hampering jobs growth as smaller firms have fired many part-time workers.
"The Moon government claims that its economic policy is for ordinary people and workers. But in reality, it is wreaking havoc on them," Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), told a forum. "Without job growth, ordinary people's livelihoods will be difficult."
Source: Yonhap News Agency