Only three out of 10 South Koreans trust the findings of an international inquiry into the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan that blamed a North Korean torpedo attack.
According to a survey conducted by Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, 32.5 percent of respondents were more or less convinced, saying they "completely trust" (6.4 percent) or "tend to trust" (26.1 percent) the findings of the inquiry.
But 35.7 percent of respondents were not convinced, with 10.7 percent saying they "completely distrust" and 25 percent they "tend to distrust" the findings. The remainder said they did not know.
IPUS interviewed 1,200 adults in 16 cities and provinces in July. The poll has a margin of error of 2.8 points and a 95 percent confidence level.
Lee Sang-shin, a senior researcher at IPUS, said, "It appears that there is an even distribution of people who trust, distrust or are unsure about the probe results, but those who were unsure should probably be regarded as harboring suspicions about the investigation results."
The findings differ markedly from a poll in June by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security of 1,000 adults and teenagers each, which showed that 75.4 percent of adults and 75.1 percent of teenagers believed North Korea attacked the Cheonan.
"Regression analysis shows that the public view of President Lee Myung-bak's performance in government had a three to four times greater impact on perceptions of the probe results than other factors such as age and political affiliations," the IPUS researcher said. In other words, public lack of confidence in the government reflected on the findings.
The younger the respondents, the more progressive their political leanings and the higher the income level, the less inclined people were to trust the findings.
"Also hindering public trust in the findings were inconsistent statements from the government in the early stages after the attack, continued suspicions raised by opposition lawmakers and some civilian experts, the belated discovery of footage of the incident and Russian and Chinese reluctance to point the finger of blame at North Korea," Lee said.