‘Peace index’ gap widens between North and South

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‘Peace index’ gap widens between North and South

South Korea has become more peaceful, while North Korea has seen a four-notch drop in an annual ranking of the global peace index, according to the index released Wednesday.

South Korea was ranked the 41st most peaceful country in the world in 2011, up 26 places from a year earlier, according to the annual index measuring the safety and security of 143 countries around the world. The “World Peace Index 2012” was published by the Seoul-based non-profit organization World Peace Forum (WPF).

North Korea was placed at 127th, down four notches from last year, according to the index.

The peace index for South Korea recorded a significant decline in the 2010 index due to North Korea’s two military attacks - the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

Tensions between the two Koreas increased in April this year after Pyongyang fired a long-range rocket, although it exploded shortly after lift-off. The launch was widely considered a cover for a ballistic missile test.

Overall, the world has become less peaceful this year with a score of 70.1 points, down 0.2 point from last year, mainly because of the instability in the Middle East caused by the Arab Spring, the WPF said in a report.

It was the lowest point since 2004 and the world’s peacefulness has been on a steady decline since 2010, the report said.

“The overall condition of world peace in 2011 has been on a slightly downward path compared to the previous year,” said Kim Jin-hyun, the head of the WPF.

Sweden was ranked the world’s most peaceful nation.

Ranked in the top 10 were Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland and Malta, the index showed. The United States was ranked 73rd place, while China was placed 108th.

Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Syria, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Angola and Pakistan were ranked in the bottom 10, according to the index.

The World Peace Forum has been publishing the index annually since 2000.

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