Poll: Few see North giving up nuclear

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Poll: Few see North giving up nuclear

Four out of five South Koreans doubt that North Korea will give up its nuclear ambitions, a recent survey showed yesterday. It is a view reflecting an increasingly pessimistic trend over the past three years.

In a survey conducted by the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, a state military think tank, of 1,017 South Koreans on Nov. 13-17 aged 19 or older, 81.7 percent of the respondents said they thought the North is unlikely to abandon its nuclear pursuits. The report comes from an annual survey - 81.4 percent responded in kind last year and 77.0 percent in 2009.

During the state funeral service for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il last Wednesday, the North’s state media praised Kim’s nuclear pursuit as his biggest legacy, although there was no mention of nuclear in its New Year’s editorial last weekend.

The survey also showed that more South Koreans think China could play a significant role in unification of the two Koreas. Asked which country’s help is the most crucial in the unification of the Korean Peninsula, 57 percent picked the U.S., down from 61.3 percent last year and 62.1 percent in 2009.

Of the respondents, 35 chose China, a marked increase from 30.1 percent last year and 18.7 percent in 2009.

Those polled were also asked how they would respond if war broke out between the two Koreas, and 61.5 percent of the respondents said they would indirectly help the South Korean military, while 12.1 percent said they would fight for the country directly.

Another 12.7 percent said they would flee to safer places in the South, while 3.2 percent said they would leave the country.

That said, 81.5 percent of the respondents viewed the possibility of an all-out war between the two Koreas as slim.

More than half (51.9 percent) said the current security situation in the South is unstable, citing North Korea’s military threat as the most crucial external factor threatening the security of the South, along with uneasiness over the North Korean regime and nuclear programs.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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