South Korean attitudes toward North-South cooperation



There is a broad consensus within South Korea with regard to expanding inter-Korean cooperation projects, but some interesting differences across groups of respondents according to polling done by TNS Korea.

The poll asked respondents whether they expected inter-Korean relations to improve under President Park Geun-hye. Given how badly relations had deteriorated during the administration of President Lee Myung-bak, it is not surprising that most respondents, including self-identified progressives and supporters of the Minjoo Party, expected improvement. The only group for which a majority did not expect North-South relations to improve were those that indicated that they disapproved of President Park. For this group of “Park disapprovers,” the split was 42 percent expected improvement, 47 expected no change, and 9 percent expected deterioration.


More interesting were the results on specific cooperation projects (reproduced above).  TNS Korea asked about support for the Inter-Korea Railroad Linkage, which the Park Administration has made a priority, the Mt. Kumgang tourism project, and a tourism project slated for Mt. Paekdu. All three projects receive majority support among conservatives, moderates, and progressives. The pattern of support is noticeably different among the three groups, however.  The economically-focused, and potentially self-sustaining, railroad project receives the most support from moderates and conservatives, whose support for the tourism ventures are more tepid.  In contrast, the progressives really seem to like the Mt. Kumgang project, started under Kim Dae-jung, and closed by Lee Myung-bak after the killing of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean guard.

The Mt. Paektu project, which could be used the North Korean propaganda machine to glorify the Kim family lineage, and, due to its location would be most susceptible to “leakage” of revenues to China, receives the least support among all three groups of respondents.

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