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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

South Korean Public Perception of Warming North-South Relations

by | March 24th, 2014 | 07:00 am

To mark the first anniversary of Park Geun-hye’s presidency, on 25 February TNS polled South Koreans on their views about relationships in Northeast Asia. Despite the difficulties in North-South relations over the past year, the most striking result is an enormous, statistically significant, perception of improved relations between North and South Korea. Other changes in South Korean perceptions appear puny compared to this shift. Selected survey results are reproduced below.

tns survey results march 2014

The South Korean public’s perceptions of relations with China (Q2) have grown more positive, have worsened in respect to Japan (Q3), and have remained fairly steady with the US. However, if there were a dispute between the US and China, the share of the South Korean public siding with the US has grown slightly, and if there were a dispute between Japan and China, support for both sides declines slightly, and the support for neutrality increases.

The share of South Koreans expecting China to side with North Korea in the case of a North-South dispute has risen over the past year. The South Korean public is more or less split evenly between those expecting the US to tilt toward South Korea and those expecting the US to side with Japan if there were a dispute between those two countries (Q4).

In short, with the exception of the big perceived improvement in North-South relations, there is considerable continuity in the South Korean public’s attitudes toward relationships in Northeast Asia in the first year of the Park presidency.