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7 in 10 Seoulites say Korean unification needed: survey

More than 7 out of 10 residents of Seoul said the reunification of South and North Korea was necessary despite soured inter-Korean relations, a survey showed Wednesday.

According to the survey of 2,000 Seoul citizens by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, 74.2 percent of the respondents said reunification of the Koreas was necessary, whereas 26 percent said it was not.

(Cheong Wa Dae)
(Cheong Wa Dae)

The liberal Moon Jae-in administration has focused its efforts on improving relations between the two Koreas, which remain technically still at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. Little headway has been made, however, as negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been at a standstill.

Men (77.8 percent) were more in favor of reunification than women (70.7 percent), while those in their 40s supported the idea most strongly (78.6 percent) and those in their 20s least strongly (66 percent).

The largest proportion of survey respondents said reunification would mostly likely take place within 20 years (25.6 percent), while 17 percent said it was impossible.

When asked what would improve the most as a result of reunification, the most popular answer was economic growth (35.4 percent), followed by ideological strife (31.3 percent) and unemployment (18.8 percent).

The respondents, however, saw bleak prospects for inter-Korean relations.

Some 40 percent said inter-Korean ties would improve within five years. But nearly 63 percent said there was little chance of the North opening up, and 71.1 percent saw little chance that it would give up its nuclear weapons program.

When asked about the Seoul City government’s push to jointly host the 2032 Seoul-Pyongyang Summer Olympics, nearly 62 percent of survey respondents expressed positive sentiments, down from 70.2 percent the previous year.

Those who supported the co-hosting of the Olympics thought it could promote inter-Korean exchanges (41 percent), ease military tensions (38.9 percent) or create a conciliatory mood on the Korean Peninsula (18.7 percent).

Those who opposed it said it would be meaningless without the political and military problems between the Koreas being solved (41.4 percent). Another 27.7 percent said constant dialogue and cooperation would not be possible.

Some 83 percent of those surveyed said they took seriously the internal conflicts within South Korean society arising from differences in perceptions of North Korea and reunification.

The survey was conducted Nov. 25 to Dec. 3 and involved 2,000 South Koreans aged from 19 to 69. The poll has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

By Ock Hyun-ju (