President Park Chung-hee's Saemaeul or New Community Movement, an effort to modernize Korea during the 1970s, was chosen by the largest number of Koreans as the greatest achievement in the 60-year history of the republic.
In the polll conducted on Sunday by Gallup Korea at the request of the Chosun Ilbo on the daily's 88th anniversary, 40.2 percent picked the Saemaul Movement, followed by the hosting of the Seoul Olympics in 1988 (30.1 percent), and the five-year economic development plans and the development of heavy and chemical industries (29.9 percent).
The Seoul-Busan expressway ranked fourth, followed by the hosting of the 2002 football World Cup and the South Korean national football squad's advance into the semifinals. All top five were events that either prompted economic growth or boosted national brands.
Respondents also chose the Gwangju Democratization Movement, South Korean semiconductor makers' outstanding performance, the achievement of a US$20,000 per capita income, the inter-Korean summit in 2001, and the pro-democracy movement in 1987, in that order.
An overwhelming majority (80.7 percent) of respondents said the U.S. was a country that influenced Korea positively over the past six decades, while 17.2 percent said the effect was negative. Some 56.9 percent also rated China positively, as against 40.4 percent who gave a negative evaluation. By contrast, more respondents (49.6 percent) gave a negative evaluation of Japan than those who were in favor (48.7 percent).
When it comes to North Korea, 69.2 percent said the effect was negative, with 27.2 percent giving a positive evaluation. Some 54.8 percent chose the U.S. as their favorite foreign country, followed by North Korea (14.4). They were followed by China, Japan and Russia. Some 31.4 percent chose Japan as their least favorite foreign country. Here North Korea also ranked second (29.5 percent), followed by Russia, China, and the U.S.