Most S.Koreans Worry About Reunification Cost

The majority of South Koreans are concerned that the cost of reunification of the two Koreas will outweigh the benefits, even though they believe it is necessary. They are apparently worried about having to bear a heavy financial burden immediately, which they fear could overshadow the long-term development benefits.

Lee Kark-bum, the chairman of the Presidential Committee on National Intelligence Strategy, in a seminar hosted by the Hansun Foundation on Wednesday cited a nationwide telephone survey of 1,000 adults where 79.3 percent of respondents said reunification is necessary, far outdistancing the 20.7 percent who said it is not.

Some 35.1 percent of the first group said it is necessary to restore Korea's national and historical integrity, while 33.8 percent said it will bring peace on the Peninsula, removing security risks.

Among them, a mere 37.6 percent thought that the benefits of reunification will outweigh the cost, but a whopping 61.6 percent viewed it negatively.

Asked to choose the strongest factors that could bring reunification, 32.5 percent picked regime collapse in North Korea, followed by regime change in the North through reform and opening (26.5 percent), growing inter-Korean exchange and cooperation (20.1 percent), and a widening gap in national strength between the two Koreas (12.8 percent).

Among the four major powers who influence the Korean Peninsula, 59.8 percent chose the U.S. as the country that would be most helpful to reunification. Next were China with 23.5 percent and Japan with 5.8 percent.

The survey was conducted by pollsters Metrix on Aug. 25-26. The margin of error was 3.1 percent and the confidence level 95 percent.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 17, 2010 09:50 KST