Used to dishing out the criticism, they seem unwilling to take it
South korea has a proud history of noisy opposition to the powers that be. Japanese colonisers found their subjects unruly. Homegrown military dictators, who brutally suppressed their citizens’ democratic yearnings for decades, eventually yielded to widespread protests. Even democratically elected leaders have incurred the wrath of civil society. Park Geun-hye, the predecessor of Moon Jae-in, the current president, was chased out of office in 2017 after millions of South Koreans took to the streets to decry rampant corruption in her government.
Ms Park’s left-wing successors had vowed to do better. Mr Moon, a former activist and human-rights lawyer, and his Minjoo party claim to embody the legacy of the pro-democracy movement. They promised to honour the spirit of the protests that swept them to power. The country would become more egalitarian. The government would be more open, tolerant of dissent and responsive.