WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — More than 60 percent of Americans are in favor of sending troops to defend South Korea in the event of an attack by North Korea, a survey showed Monday, indicating a strengthened commitment toward the Asian ally.
The survey, conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs with support from the Korea Foundation, found 62 percent of Americans favored the use of U.S. troops if North Korea invaded South Korea, the first time there was a majority since the first survey in 1990.
The council attributed the spike to the public’s sense of a heightened threat from North Korea.
The survey was conducted on a weighted national sample of 2,020 adults living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between June 27 and July 19. Some of the respondents are presumed to have been aware of North Korea’s first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.
The ICBM had the range to strike Alaska or Hawaii, according to experts.
According to the survey, 75 percent of the respondents viewed North Korea’s nuclear program as a critical threat, up 15 percentage points from last year and 20 points from 2015.
The council said it was the largest on-year increase for a potential threat mentioned in this year’s survey.
North Korea’s nuclear program ranked among the top threats facing the country, it added.
On the policy options to stop the North’s nuclear weapons program, imposing tighter economic sanctions on the country won the most support with 76 percent, followed by imposing sanctions on Chinese companies doing business with North Korea at 68 percent.
The other options were conducting airstrikes on nuclear production facilities (40 percent), sending U.S. troops to destroy nuclear facilities (28 percent), accepting that North Korea will possess nuclear weapons in exchange for producing no more (21 percent), and accepting that North Korea will produce more nuclear weapons (11 percent).
The council also compared Americans’ views of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“In the United States, there is no love for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un,” it said. “His frequent portrayals in the media cast him as a madman, making him notorious for missiles, nuclear weapons, threats to the United States, and human rights abuses.”
As a result, 79 percent of the respondents had a “very unfavorable” view of him, followed by 12 percent with a “somewhat unfavorable” view, 4 percent with a “somewhat favorable” view, and 2 percent with a “very favorable” view.
“This makes him the least favorable leader included in the survey,” the council said.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of Americans had a “somewhat” or “very” favorable opinion of Moon, against 41 percent with a “somewhat” or “very” unfavorable opinion.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.