Survey shows most support paying for unification

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Survey shows most support paying for unification

Nearly six out of 10 South Koreans are willing to pay for the potentially astronomical costs of unification with North Korea, a survey showed yesterday.

According to the survey of 1,007 adults nationwide by the public broadcaster KBS, 58.2 percent said they are ready to shoulder the financial burden of unification in the form of taxation.

However, the figure marked a steep fall of 13.1 percentage points from the same survey conducted in 2005, reflecting economic hardships for the low-income class and high tensions following the March sinking of a warship blamed on North Korea, KBS said.

“The negative perception of reunification costs appeared to have increased because of worsening economic conditions among low-income people and inter-Korean tensions from the sinking of the Cheonan warship,” KBS said in the survey.

Tensions remain high after a team of multinational investigators concluded in May that a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan in March near their tense Yellow Sea border, killing 46 sailors. The North has consistently denied the charge.

Debates over reunification costs resurfaced in August when President Lee Myung-bak proposed a special tax to meet the financial burden of the two Koreas coming together.

The survey showed 33.6 percent of those who support an increased burden for taxpayers said they were willing to pay less than 1 percent of their annual income in a unification tax.

Another 19.5 percent said they were willing to pay 1 to 5 percent, while 4 percent responded that they would pay 5 to 10 percent.

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