Interest in Reunification Rises Again
More and more South Koreans have become interested in reunification over the last five years, a poll suggests, partly as a result of government and press campaigns.
In the survey by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies of 1,500 adults released on Tuesday, 82.6 percent said they are interested in reunification, compared to just 52.6 percent in 2010.
Although there are clear differences according to age group, interest in reunification increased across all the spectrum. Among people in their 20s, a whopping 71.8 percent expressed an interest, up from just 39.2 percent five years ago, and among 40-somethings the figure rose from 57 percent to 81.8 percent over the same period.
Among people over 60 it reached almost complete support, growing from 58.3 percent to 91.9 percent. But the reasons why people favor reunification have changed.
The largest group or 40.8 percent cited ethnic or national reasons -- 33.2 percent want to restore ethnic unity and 7.6 percent call for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War to be reunited.
But almost the same proportion cited pragmatic reasons with 37.7 percent. Some 23 percent said reunification would stimulate economic growth and 14.7 percent said it would substantially reduce defense spending.
Among people in their 40s, 47.8 percent feel economic factors are the most important reason for reunification, compared to only 34.2 percent who thought ethnic or national unity is the chief driver.
"People in their 40s, who play central roles in the economy, approach reunification from an economic standpoint," the institute said. "In contrast, among people in their 60s or above, who experienced the pain of war and separation, 20 percent more cited ethnic unity as the main reason."