69% approve of Pyongyang summit accordNearly seven out of 10 South Koreans are happy with an agreement reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their third summit in Pyongyang two weeks ago, according to a poll conducted by the JoongAng Ilbo last week.
In their so-called Pyongyang Declaration, the two leaders “agreed to cooperate closely in the process of pursuing complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” as well as to cease all confrontational acts in all domains - air, sea and ground - along the border, which the Blue House said were equivalent to a practical “end-of-war declaration” between the two countries.
On the issue of reunification, 71 percent said they supported reunifying with the North while 62.6 percent said they were willing to pay more in taxes for reunification.
Some 31.5 percent were fervent supporters of reunification, saying it must be realized, while 39.5 percent were less enthusiastic, responding that it would be better for Koreans to have reunification come true.
While 62.6 percent said they were willing to pay more in taxes for reunification, the support rate differed across age groups. For respondents above the age of 59, 47.9 percent said they were against tax increase for reunification while 29.1 percent of respondents in their 50s said the same. For respondents in their 30s, 32.9 percent opposed tax increases while 42.2 percent of respondents in their 20s said they didn’t want taxes to rise for reunification.
While nearly two-thirds of the respondents were satisfied with the Sept.18-20 Pyongyang summit, many remained dubious about North Korean leader Kim’s sincerity about denuclearization. Some 52.3 percent said they do not trust the young leader. 46.1 percent said otherwise.
While more than 50 percent of respondents in their 30s through their 50s said they had trust in Kim, 69 percent of respondents in their 20s said they did not.
Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang had the highest number of people expressing doubt about Kim’s sincerity with 60.6 percent saying they did not trust him. In Daegu and North Gyeongsang, 59.3 percent of those polled answered the same. The Gyeongsang region is known as the traditional support base for the conservative Liberty Korea Party, which champions a hard-line North Korea policy. The number of respondents suspicious of the North’s intentions was much lower in Gwangju and the Jeolla region at 34.6 percent.
Jeolla is a stronghold for the ruling Democratic Party and showed strong support for the Pyongyang Declaration, with an overwhelming 91.9 percent of respondents expressing satisfaction with it.
On the prospect of declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, more than half of the respondents, or 54.7 percent, said the declaration should come after the North carries out sufficient denuclearization steps, displaying a cautious attitude towards the North’s denuclearization commitment.
Some 19.7 percent said the declaration should be made even before such denuclearization measures by the North while 17.8 percent said the declaration should be made with denuclearization measures simultaneously.
Formally ending the three-year war that broke out 68 years ago is a long-running demand by Pyongyang, which sees an end-of-war declaration as a first and critical step towards winning its regime security since it would pave the way for opening diplomatic ties with the United States. Pyongyang demands that Washington agree to the declaration in exchange for denuclearization steps it has taken.
On the economy, people expressed bleak views. 16.1 percent said the economy will be in a much worse shape one year from now while 24 percent said it will be in a somewhat worse shape. 3.6 percent said the economy will improve significantly while 20.4 percent said it will improve somewhat.
BY KANG JIN-KYU, KWON HO [firstname.lastname@example.org]