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8 in 10 Koreans prioritize economy over reunification: survey

Eight out of 10 South Koreans put priority on economy over reunification with North Korea, a survey showed Friday, amid the government’s continued efforts to improve inter-Korean ties and a slowing economy. 


Asked what problems they would choose to solve between economy and reunification, 77.1 percent of the respondents said they would choose economy over reunification with the North, according to a survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

Some 7 percent of those surveyed said they did not agree with choosing economy over reunification.

The face-to-face survey was conducted on 3,873 Koreans aged from 19 to 75 during the period of June to September in 2018.

The liberal Moon Jae-in administration has focused its efforts on improving inter-Korean relations and resolving a decadeslong nuclear crisis, which resulted in three inter-Korean summits last year. In the meantime, Korea’s economy has suffered from a protected slump in the semiconductor sector, a slowdown in global trade and a tightening private-sector job market following a sharp hike in the minimum wage.

More than half, or 55.9 percent, of the survey agreed that two Koreas did not have to be reunified as one country just because they are one people. Some 16 percent of the surveyed disagreed.

Asked whether it is OK for them to be worse off for the sake of reunifying the Koreas, 53.24 percent of the respondents said it was not OK. Some 17 percent said they could bear being worse off.

The majority of the respondents, or 54.08 percent, felt neutral about changes in the direction toward Koreas’ reunification, while 33.21 percent said the changes were positive and 12.71 percent said they were negative.

On the improvement in inter-Korean relations, 42.37 percent of the respondents found it positive, 49.96 percent saw it as neither positive nor negative, and 7.67 percent found it negative.