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70% of S. Koreans support N.K. soccer team over U.S.

More than 70 percent of South Koreans would root for North Korea if the communist nation played a football match with the United States, while the two Koreas’ reunification is becoming less of a priority for the public here, a study showed Tuesday.

According to the study by Professor Eun Ki-soo of Seoul National University, one survey showed that 70.1 percent of respondents last year would cheer for North Korea while only 6 to 8 percent would side with the United States in a football match between the two countries. Six to 10 percent said they would cheer for both teams, while the remaining 10 to 13 percent said they would not side with either.

Comparable data showed the percentage of North Korea supporters was 21.3 percent in 1986 before increasing annually to 55.1 percent in 1987, 58.1 percent in 1988, 71.2 percent in 1989 and 82 percent in 1990.

When asked about the necessity of their country reunifying with the North, only 12.3 percent of respondents in 2008 replied positively, compared with 58 percent in 1995. Over the surveyed period, the proportion fell gradually to 47.9 percent in 1998, 22 percent in 2001 and 16.2 percent in 2003.

The proportion of those with negative answers, such as “It is best left as it is” or “There should never be reunification,” grew from 17.5 percent in 1998 to 45.3 percent in 2008.

Among those who chose reunification, more people gave practical reasons for their preference, with 24.1 percent last year saying it would prevent war and 20.7 percent replying it would help their country become an advanced nation. The corresponding percentages in 1994 were 14.6 and 14.2 percent, respectively. Being one people accounted for 43 percent of the given reasons last year, down from 59 percent in 1994. 

(Yonhap News)
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