By Kim Tae-gyu
President Park Geun-hye enjoys high approval ratings of around 60 percent despite lingering controversy over the spy agency's alleged intervention in the Dec. 19 presidential election.
However, analysts say that the rating may be affected by developments in the scandal involving the National Intelligence Service.
Still, many political observers pointed out Monday that her unique style of not being embroiled in political issues is one of the key factors behind her popularity.
"Former presidents were typically off to a solid start with high-rising approval ratings and saw the figures continue to head down. In contrast, Park is seeing increased support as time goes by," a Seoul analyst said.
"Park seems to have successfully distanced herself from the daily political bickering. In other words, Park has made people believe she is in charge of state affairs without regard to political standoffs."
According to Gallup Korea, Park started with an approval rating of 44 percent in February, which dipped slightly to 41 percent in early April. The figure began surging thereafter and reached 63 percent last week.
Park's mirror image is the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), which has struggled with support in the neighborhood of 20 percent.
"Park's stable management in North Korea policies and foreign affairs appears to have won the hearts and minds of people. In particular, her overseas visits to the United States and China were of great help," the analyst said.
Park flew to the U.S. in early May and visited China this month for summits with the leaders of the world's two largest economies. By and large, the two overseas trips were evaluated as successful.
Her popularity is still seen as vulnerable to the controversy regarding the spy agency's intervention in the presidential election and its disclosure of the 2007 inter-Korean summit minutes.
Prof. Sohn Tae-gyu at Dankook University on the other hand has a different idea.
"I don't think that Park savors high support. In fact, she suffered unusually low approval ratings early on due to appointment disasters. Now, she has just got back on track," he said.
"The real show will start from now on. You are required to keep an eye on her approval ratings to decide whether or not she is doing her job properly."
After winning the election last December, Park has seen many of her picks for senior jobs resign due to ethical lapses, exemption from mandatory military service for dubious reasons or suspicions of speculation to get rich.
It culminated in early May when Park's first appointment as spokesman Yoon Chang-jung was fired after he allegedly groped an embassy intern during Park's visit to the U.S.
국정을 강타하고 있는 국가정보원의 선거 개입 의혹 사건과 무관하게 박근혜 대통령이 한달 이상 60% 안팎의 지지율을 유지하고 있어 비상한 관심이 집중되고 있다.
전문가들은 아직 국정원 사건에 대해 결론이 나지 않은 상태기 때문에 향후 사태의 진전에 따라 박대통령의 지지율이 흔들릴 가능성은 존재한다고 지적하고 있지만 그 여파는 아직 느껴지지 않고 있다.
한국 갤럽에 따르면 박대통령의 지지율은 지난주 63%를 기록해 정점을 찍었다. 임기 초반 44%로 시작해 4월초 41%까지 떨어진 것과 비교하면 큰 차이가 난다.
익명을 요구한 한 분석가는 “박대통령이 정쟁과 거리를 둔 채 안정적으로 국정을 운영한 것이 큰 도움이 되었다. 특히 방미와 방중 성과가 크게 작용했다”고 지적했다.
반면 단국대 손태규 교수는 박대통령이 높은 지지율을 누리는 것이 아니라 이제야 제자리를 잡아 간 것이라고 분석했다.
그는 “역대 대통령이 지금쯤이면 비슷한 지지율을 유지했다. 사실 박대통령은 인사문제 때문에 임기 초반 지지율이 비정상적으로 낮았던 것이다. 지지율 추이에 대한 분석은 이제부터다”고 말했다.