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8 out of 10 Korean-Americans express need for Korean unification: poll

More than eight out of 10 Koreans living in the United States expressed a need for the unification of the divided Korean Peninsula, a survey showed Monday.

According to a poll by the Overseas Koreans Foundation carried out on 676 Korean-Americans, 81.5 percent of them expressed the need for Korean unification, while 15.8 percent said unification is not necessary. Only 2.7 percent said they are not interested in reunification.

The foundation is a South Korean government agency tasked with supporting millions of Koreans living outside of South Korea. The survey was conducted by the private Inter-Korean Economic Research Institute during July and August last year at the request of the foundation.

As for the need for the Korean unification, 40.7 percent replied that the two countries should become one because Koreans live in the two countries, while 26.3 percent said that Korean unification will help South Korea make the next leap forward. A further 10.8 percent said it will improve human rights.

Other reasons cited for the need of unification are to reduce military clashes, which made up 10.2 percent of the responses, and to alleviate the pains of separated families between the two Koreas, which stood at 9.6 percent.

China was cited as the most influential country in regards to Korean unification with 51.2 percent of those polled sharing this position, followed by the U.S. with 35.6 percent, Japan with 6.7 percent and Russia with 4.5 percent.

If North Korea's Kim Jong-un regime collapses, 29.5 percent of respondents guessed that another Communist regime would be established in the North with China's intervention.

However, 22.6 percent of them said that Korean unification will be realized by South Korea taking the lead.

Some 20.2 percent replied that collective leadership will be established like past cases in the Soviet Union and China. Some

17.7 percent said other family members of Kim Jong-un, such as his brothers Kim Jong-nam or Kim Jong-chol, will take over power.

The latest tally showed that 79.5 percent said South Korea will see more development through unification, while just 20.6 percent answered that the country could run into difficulties.

The gap between the affluent South and poor North was cited as the biggest stumbling block to unification with 41.6 percent expressing such fears, followed by ideological conflicts with 28.8 percent. The poll showed that unification could cause a rise in crime and regional conflicts, and 3 percent said that there may be more taxes.

Nevertheless, most Korean-Americans were upbeat about inter-Korean relations with more than 60 percent anticipating improvements, while merely 6 percent saw the future negatively.

On the question of the roles of Korean-Americans for Korean unification, they cited the need to offer more support to the Seoul government's unification policy and diplomatic efforts. They said Koreans living in the U.S. can also do more to improve the human rights situation in North Korea. (Yonhap)

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