In a survey of 1,000 people nationwide conducted Friday to Sunday by The Korea Herald in collaboration with research firm JoWon Communication Innovation, 8.5 percent of respondents chose North Korea as a neighbor in which South Korea could have faith. Among them, those in their 40s make up 14.3 percent, the largest age group with a favorable view of the North.
The youngest group in the survey, aged 19 to 29, came next at 9.6 percent, followed by those in their 30s with 8.6 percent and 50s with 7.3 percent.
North Korea received the least support from those in their 60s with only 4.3 percent.
|Photos showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are displayed to demand withdrawal of US troops from Korean Peninsula near the US Embassy in Seoul on Monday. (AP-Yonhap)|
“It seems 40s are a age group that tends to maintain a sense of nationalism due the education they received in the past with the belief that the South and North are one nation and that reunification would be achieved relatively ‘soon,’” Cho Han-bum, a senior researcher at the Korean Institute for National Unification said.
“Those in their 50s or above in South Korea tend to gain a more conservative streak, while the 20s and 30s are more up to date with current affairs and hold a realistic view,” he added.
Since the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice and a divided peninsula, the South’s sentiments toward the North have wavered over the years, depending on the government in power. South Koreans who are currently in their 40s are likely a group that experienced a powerful mood of detente in their 20s when the first inter-Korean summit between President Kim Dae-jung and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il took place in 2000.
The summit kicked off nearly a decade of active cross-border interaction between the two Koreas, until the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration came into power in 2008 and the conciliatory mood quickly soured on the back of the North’s military provocations.
North Korea ranked second in the criteria, with Russia, China and Japan trailing behind with 3 percent, 2.7 percent, and 1.3 percent respectively.
An overwhelming 55.7 percent of respondents picked the United States, South Korea’s longtime ally, as the most trustworthy. Interestingly, among them, 45 percent of respondents in their 40s found the US most trustworthy, which is almost 20 percentage points lower than the 67 percent recorded by those in their 60s.
By Jung Min-kyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)