Fewer People Trust Gov't Account of Cheonan Sinking

      March 19, 2012 11:42

      Some 71.3 percent of South Koreans now believe the South Korean government's announcement that the Navy corvette Cheonan was torpedoed by North Korea, according to a poll. The Chosun Ilbo commissioned Media Research to conduct the survey on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of shipwreck.

      That is 8.7 percent less than the 80 percent who believed the official version in a survey by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Hankook Research a year ago. The decline could be due to conspiracy theories circulating among young people that the government fabricated or concealed the truth.

      In this year's survey, only 55.8 percent of those in their 20s and 30s said they trust the findings of the investigation done by the South Korean government, compared to 74.3 percent in their 40s and 85 percent in their 50s. Distrust was the highest among women in their 20s and men in their 30s with 45.6 percent and 43.1 percent saying they do not believe the official version.

      People over 60 were the most trusting, with just 8.5 percent expressing distrust. Men in their 20s were also relatively trusting of government, with only 19.7 percent expressing distrust, probably because most men in this age group have just served in the military.

      Prof. Seo U-seok at the University of Seoul said, "It seems that distrust of the government is greater among people in their 20s and 30s who are much more exposed to the Internet and social media, where the conspiracy theories surrounding the Cheonan sinking are virulent."

      Meanwhile, 55.7 percent said humanitarian aid to North Korea should be resumed, 24.9 percent said sanctions against North Korea imposed on May 24, 2010 should be maintained, and 16.8 percent argued all sanctions should be dropped. The sanctions halt aid and ban all trade with North Korea with the exception of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

      The survey was conducted by phone among 700 people over 19 nationwide.

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