The affection South Koreans feel for Japan has chilled to the temperature generated in their hearts by North Korea, chiefly due to Tokyo's lurch to the far right this year.
Research and Research surveyed attitudes among South Koreans to neighbors China, Japan and North Korea as well as the U.S. in December, and Japan scored just 2.57 points on an affection scale from zero to 10, similar to North Korea's 2.37 points.
The U.S. scored a respectable 5.4 points and China 4.37 points.
The report was commissioned by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
Japan has scored poorly since the beginning of the year.
The year saw Japan offend South Koreans with ever louder claims to South Korea's Dokdo islets, visits by record numbers of Japanese politicians to the militarist Yasukuni Shrine, which houses the remains of war criminals, and a stream of insensitive remarks about the island country's wartime atrocities.
That has meant that the proportion of South Koreans who see Japan as a rival rather than a partner rose from 63.6 percent in January to 66.2 percent this month. Only 22.2 percent of South Koreans see Japan as a partner.
A similar survey conducted in Japan also showed a gradual drop in Japanese affection for Koreans, from 63.1 points out of 100 in 2009 to 40.7 this year.
Kim Ji-yoon at the Asan Institute said, "As long as there are no changes in the Japanese government's behavior, anti-Japanese sentiment will persist here."