중앙데일리

Majority opposes U.S. troop presence

Sept 21,2005
A majority of Koreans now want U.S. forces to withdraw from this country, a recent survey by the JoongAng Ilbo showed.
According to the poll, commissioned on the newspaper’s 40th anniversary, 54 percent of respondents wanted the G.I.s out. The proportion of Koreans opposed to a U.S. military presence here has increased steadily over the past three years.
Just under 4 percent of the respondents said they wanted a quick, complete pullout, but about a quarter favored a more gradual withdrawal.
Only 16 percent of the respondents said they wanted U.S. troops to stay here permanently, and another 30 percent said they hoped the American forces would be here “for a considerable period of time.”
In parallel with that sentiment, fewer Koreans see North Korea as a military threat to this country; three years ago, half of Koreans were worried about a North Korean provocation, but this year the proportion dropped to 42 percent.
Poll-takers visited the homes of 1,200 men and women over 20 years old in this national survey conducted from Aug. 24 to Sept. 10. The margin of error in the poll is 2.8 percentage points with 95-percent confidence in the accuracy of the results.
The poll also found that Koreans are becoming less willing to finance the massive investments that would be needed before and after national reunification. Forty-six percent said they would be willing to pay more taxes to meet those bills, a drop of 10 percentage points since the same question was asked last year.
Asked about which country they admired the most, 17 percent of the respondents answered the United States, 15 percent said Australia and 13 percent named Switzerland. The United States was also prominent in the list of disliked nations, although it trailed Japan, which 62 percent of Koreans say they dislike. But 28 percent of Koreans say Japan is the best role model for Korea.
Which nation is most important to Korea’s economy? Thirty-seven percent said China, 35 percent the United States and 13 percent North Korea.
Koreans are unsatisfied with the state of their nation; three out of four called the situation here “unstable” and only 4 percent disagreed.
The economy was seen as the major issue to be tackled; respondents noted stable prices as the biggest need, followed by more jobs.
More that half were unhappy with President Roh Moo-hyun’s performance; those who supported him cited his North Korea policies, cleanup of corruption, real estate policies and fight against regional divides. He was criticized for the poor economy, unemployment and inflation. Seven percent criticized his “imprudent speech and behavior.”
Twenty-nine percent of Koreans said they supported the conservative opposition Grand National Party, nearly double the support for Mr. Roh’s Uri Party.
Nine percent said they backed the left-wing Democratic Labor party. But 42 percent said they had no favorite political party.


by Shin Chang-woon


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