SEOUL – South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating fell to 4 percent amid a deepening political crisis, marking an all-time low for any democratically elected leader in the country, according to a Gallup Korea poll released Friday.
Fears of policy paralysis prompted by the political crisis also dealt a blow to consumer confidence, which fell to its lowest in more than seven years in November, South Korea’s central bank said.
Park’s presidency has been rocked by allegations that a close friend used her ties to the leader to meddle in state affairs and wield improper influence. Prosecutors investigating the case have indicted her friend, Choi Soon-sil, and are seeking to question the president about her role in the scandal.
Park’s approval rating slipped 1 percentage point after hovering at 5 percent for three consecutive weeks, while her disapproval rating rose 3 points to 93 percent, the Gallup Korea poll showed.
Gallup Korea, based in Seoul, is not affiliated with U.S.-based Gallup, Inc.
Choi was indicted along with a former presidential aide on Sunday on charges of colluding with Park to pressure companies to contribute funds to two foundations controlled by Choi.
South Korean investigators have since widened their anti-graft probe into Park’s aides and businesses, raiding the offices of Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest family-run conglomerate, and Lotte Group this week.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Seoul on Saturday in the fourth straight weekend of protests against Park, the biggest public demonstrations in South Korea since the 1980s.
More than a million people are expected to gather again on Saturday, including about a thousand farmers, raising concerns of a clash with police trying to prevent the crowd from marching on the presidential Blue House.
Park, whose five-year term ends in February 2018, has resisted calls to resign but has apologized twice.
South Korea’s opposition parties are working toward launching impeachment proceedings against her but they need votes from Park’s ruling party if the motion is to succeed.