SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Korea Bizwire) — South Koreans are less supportive of unification with North Korea than last year, a survey showed Tuesday, amid the protracted impasse in inter-Korean relations and denuclearization negotiations.
According to the survey of 1,200 adults commissioned by the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (IPUS) at Seoul National University, 53 percent responded that unification is necessary, down from last year’s 59.8 percent.
The number of those opposed to unification rose 4.4 percentage points to 20.5 percent, the survey showed.
The survey, conducted by Gallup Korea from July 1-26, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
The percentage of people who see North Korea as a counterpart for dialogue and compromise fell to 51.6 percent from last year’s 54.7 percent.
Those supporting President Moon Jae-in’s policy on North Korea also dropped to 55.9 percent, from last year’s record high of 65.6 percent.
These results suggest that South Koreans have grown wary of unification as the nuclear negotiations came to a deadlock this year, experts said.
The survey revealed that 28.3 percent consider Japan a threat, the highest level in a decade, as relations between the two neighbors have frayed seriously after Japan took retaliatory measures for South Korean Supreme Court’s rulings on wartime forced labor.
The survey also showed for the second consecutive year that South Koreans saw China, not North Korea, as the biggest threat to the Korean peninsula.
Only 30.8 percent of the respondents perceived North Korea as a threat, the lowest figure since 2007.
Conducted annually since it began in 2007, the IPUS survey serves as a marker of public opinion on how South Koreans perceive unification and policy toward North Korea.