A new survey carried out by a department of Seoul National University has revealed that South Korean citizens regard North Korea as the biggest danger their country faces, and that they believe improving North Korean human rights should be the top priority of policy toward the northern half of the peninsula.
The survey, which was carried out in July, asked 1200 adults across the country for their opinion of North Korea. 47.3% of respondents said that North Korea is the most threatening country they face, followed by China with 30.5%. Japan and the United States came far behind.
Explaining the results, which reinforce the idea of a changing awareness of North Korea in the South, Jang Yong Seok, a senior researcher with the university’s Institute of Peace and Unification Studies (IPUS), said, “Until 2009 the number of people who thought of Japan as the biggest threat to peninsula peace was quite high but, thanks to North Korea’s nuclear test and such like, since then the feeling that North Korea and China are the most dangerous has been growing fast.”
Asked who is responsible for the current state of inter-Korean relations, an overwhelming 87.3% pointed to North Korea.
Asked about aid, 41.2% of respondents said that it should be kept at the current level, with 35% calling for a decrease and 23.8% saying it should increase. Those who said it should decrease cited lack of transparency (56.2%) as the reason, followed by the tax burden aid imposes on the people and the risk of helping to maintain the North Korean regime.
Finally, when asked what should be the priority of North Korea policy, 79.8% of respondents said “improving North Korean human rights,” meaning greater numbers of exchanges and more cooperation, coupled to raising human rights issues in dialogue.