Most Young S.Koreans Don't Believe in Reunification

  • By Pak Soo-chan

    January 27, 2018 08:15

    Only four out of 10 South Koreans believe reunification is necessary, a poll by Seoul National University finds. The poll reveals that people in their 20s and 30s are the most opposed to reunification of any age group.

    Among those in their 20s, 41.4 percent are in favor, and among 30-somethings 39.6 percent. That contrasts with 57.8 percent in their 40s, 62 percent in their 50s and 67 percent of the over-60s. When it comes to providing aid to North Korea, South Koreans in their 20s and 30s are in fact more opposed than other generations.

    A Gallup Korea poll last August showed 62 percent of South Koreans in their 20s saying aid to North Korea must be halted until Pyongyang scraps its nuclear weapons program. And only 34 percent felt humanitarian aid to the North must continue.

    Koh Yoo-hwan at Dongguk University said attitudes to North Korea among young people are as hardline as among the conservative elderly. "These attitudes seem to come from North Korea's nuclear tests."

    Banners wishing for the reunification of the two Koreas hang at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Jan. 20. /Newsis

    A straw poll by the Chosun Ilbo of 40 people in their 20s and 30s yielded similar results. Asked how they felt about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, not one had a positive opinion.

    Kim Tae-hoon, a 34-year-old graduate student who is about the same age as the North Korean leader, said, "I've never considered Kim Jong-un to be the leader of his country. I'm lost for words after watching him execute his own uncle and making countless threats to annihilate Seoul. To be honest, he was just born with a silver spoon in his mouth." And Kim Hye-young, a 32-year-old office worker, said, "A leader who murders his own family members and tortures his own people is simply a tyrant."

    In the old days, when North Korea was ruled by nation founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il, young South Koreans held much more charitable views of the two despots.

    Nam Sung-wook at Korea University said, "Back then, we believed North and South Korea are made up of the same people and that the two Koreas should unite. At that time, some in their 20s and 30s believed Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were legitimate leaders of their country although they followed different ideologies than us."

    Kim Jong-un reminds many young South Koreans who are having a tough time finding a job of a spoiled rich kid. Yoon Duk-min, former head of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said, "On top of that, they have witnessed Kim's reign of terror, so their negative feelings are quite understandable."

    But they do not organize protests against Kim Jong-un either. One university student said, "What can the young generation gain from actively criticizing Kim Jong-un? North Korea won't change, so we really don't care."

    Instead, young people are critical of their own government for being too accommodating to the North. Kim Eun-jae, a 23-year-old university student who supports Moon, said, "I don't think I would be able to tolerate Moon trying to make nice with Kim Jong-un."

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