July 15, 2014 08:33
North Koreans generally feel much closer to China than to South Korea, even though the two Koreas were once the same country.
The findings come from interviews with 100 North Koreans in China conducted earlier this year by the Chosun Ilbo and Center for Cultural Unification Studies.
Seventy-six of the 100 said China is their country's closest neighbor and only 19 South Korea.
Many said China is regarded in North Korea as a brother nation and communist ally. They also recalled that China fought on North Korea's side during the Korean War and their country still receives a lot of help from China.
Those who picked South Korea cited ethnic ties, and many of them want the two Koreas to reunite because they speak the same language, whereas they face a language barrier in China.
Two people said they feel closer to Europe, and one each to Japan, Russia and the U.S.
When asked what China means to North Korea, 60 people ticked "brother" and 37 "friend." Only two people described China as a competitor and one as an enemy.
"Without China, we would all starve or freeze to death," said one respondent, "We get all our clothes and food from China."
One woman in her 40s said, "Most of the goods in the markets come from China. If it weren't for China's help, do you think North Koreans could survive even a single day?"
Sixty-two believe that China wants reunification of the Korean Peninsula. One woman in her 30s said, "China is a socialist country and the South is a capitalist one, but it's now close to China. China would want both Koreas to live well, so it will support reunification."
But 35 respondents said China is against Korean reunification.
One man in his 50s said, "China probably doesn't want reunification because a unified Korea would develop faster than China."
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