Yoon’s approval rating climbs after South Korean doctors strike

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s tough stance on striking doctors gained support among voters. - PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (Bloomberg): South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s approval rating climbed to a three-month high as his tough stance on striking doctors gains support among voters frustrated with disruptions to the health-care system.

Yoon’s support level rose 1 percentage point to 34%, the highest since November, according to a weekly poll by Gallup Korea released Friday. This is a turnaround from just weeks ago, when his approval rating slid to a nine-month low after a video emerged that appears to show his wife receiving a designer bag.

South Korea raised its health-care alert to the highest level after thousands of doctors walked off their jobs in protest at government plans to increase medical school admissions, forcing hospitals to delay or cancel surgeries. The move to recruit more medical students is aimed at reversing a shortage of physicians.

A recent Gallup poll shows 76% of respondents are in favor of the push to increase the medical school quota, while 16% have a negative view.

The government is making preparations for a prolonged strike. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Friday that operating hours at public medical institutions will be extended. Authorities will allow all hospitals and clinics to provide telemedicine services from Friday until the end of the strike.

Almost 70% of the nation’s 13,000 trainee doctors have submitted resignations even as authorities warned of police investigation and arrest for the walkout.

The Korean Medical Association, a main lobby group for doctors, is planning large-scale rallies in Seoul on Sunday and March 3, Han said.

-- ©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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