A majority of Koreans support the Lee Myung-bak administration’s hardline policy against North Korea, despite negative evaluations of Lee’s response to the North’s recent artillery attack, a survey found Monday.
After North Korea’s deadly shelling of Yeongpyeong Island near the tense Yellow Sea border on Nov. 23, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, an independent think tank, questioned 1,000 adults nationwide on their opinions about national security.
In the survey, 64.8 percent of the respondents said that the government should maintain its tough stance against the North, while 30.4 percent called for a policy shift to a more moderate line.
Participants burn effigies of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his son Jong-un during a rally against the artillery attack on a South Korean island in Seoul on Monday. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)
Among those who supported the hardline policy, 20-somethings accounted for the largest portion, at 71.4 percent.
However, only 25.9 percent responded positively about the government’s response to the North’s military provocation.
Most of the respondents, 80.3 percent, said that the South Korean army should have taken stronger military action. Such a view was more apparent among people who had a conservative viewpoint, 87.6 percent, or those who were supporters of the current government, 85.5 percent.
In the case of another provocation by North Korea, the largest number of people, 40.5 percent, said the government should launch stronger military operations while preventing a full-scale war.
Other opinions were strong punishment by mobilizing all possible military strength, 25 percent, diplomatic action in order to secure the national economy, 16.4 percent, and a conversation with the North, 15 percent.
A majority of the respondents, 60.9 percent, predicted that the recent shelling will not escalate into an all-out war.
While 65.2 percent said that a full-scale war should be prevented in the case of future conflict between the two Koreas, 33 percent said stronger military action should be taken, risking war.
About the North’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons, 43.3 percent said the Sunshine Policy of the previous two Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun is responsible, while 35.4 percent blamed the current government’s hardline policy.
Until there is an official apology and compensation from the North, 57.5 percent of the respondents said all exchange projects with the North should be halted.
While 44.7 percent made a positive evaluation of President Lee’s management of state affairs, 46.5 percent responded negatively.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com)