August 14, 2015 08:15
Some 86 percent of South Koreans believe reunification with the North is possible and more people than ever see it as desirable, a poll suggests.
Pollster Media Research surveyed 1,000 adults from June 12 to 30 to mark 70 years of Korea's liberation from the Japanese colonial rule. Only 14 percent of respondents felt reunification is impossible.
Faith in reunification is surging after a trough in recent years, but most believe it will take time. Asked how long it will take, 27.5 percent said 20 years, 18 percent 15 to 19 years and 12.5 percent 10 to 14 years. Only 3.2 percent thought it could happen in the next 10 years.
The latest survey shows reunification hopes have grown but attitudes to the North Korean regime have worsened over the last decade.
Three nuclear tests, the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan, shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and recent brutal purges appear to have cured many leftwingers here of their rosy views of the North as a counterweight to untrammelled capitalism.
Some 43.5 percent of respondents still see North Koreans as partners in reunification, but that is down from 66.2 percent in 2005.
Some 25.6 percent now feel North Korea is an enemy, compared to just 15.5 percent in 2005. The proportion who said Seoul should be wary of Pyongyang rose from nine percent to 19.7 percent. More people also fear North Korea could start a war than a decade ago, up from 49.1 percent to 52.9 percent.
Experts say people who had been willing to give North Korea the benefit of the doubt became disillusioned when it constantly reneged on solemn pledges to dismantle its nuclear program and instead kept developing nuclear bombs and missiles and launching unprovoked attacks on the South.
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