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Half of all S. Koreans favor maintaining Kaesong factory park: poll

All Headlines 20:08 August 08, 2013

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Half of all South Koreans favor maintaining the inter-Korean factory park at Kaesong, even if it entails slight sacrifices, a local poll showed Thursday.

The polls conducted by Gallup Korea on behalf of the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (IPUS) at Seoul National University said 50.4 percent of those surveyed wanted the Kaesong Industrial Complex to be kept in operation. This is a gain from 45.7 percent tallied last year.

The factory park, which is home to 123 South Korean companies that hired more than 53,000 North Korean workers, has been shut down for the past four months amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Six round of talks held in July failed to make headway on the key safeguard issue, with the next meeting planned for next Wednesday.

The nationwide survey conducted on 1,200 people this month also showed that 52.3 percent of respondents replied that the incumbent Park Geun-hye administration was doing a good job in regards to its North Korean policy, up sharply from 34.3 percent reported in 2012 under the Lee Myung-bak administration.

The poll showed that 26.5 percent of the people said the top priority concerning South-North relations must be placed on getting Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program, followed by 25.2 percent who called for opening the North and enhancing human rights in the communist country.

Of the total, 17.4 percent said easing tension and cooperation were key priorities with 17.2 percent claiming the signing of a peace treaty to replace the Armistice Agreement is critical for better relations. The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce with no permanent peace treaty being signed.

Another 13.6 percent of the respondents said Seoul must come up with active unification policies and funds to prepare for eventual unification.

IPUS said the latest poll is different from last year in that in the 2012 tally, 46.1 percent believed that easing tensions and encouraging cooperation were the most important goals in inter-Korean relations.

The think tanks said the poll moreover showed 52.3 percent of the respondents favored the South acquiring nuclear weapons of its own to counter the North Korean threat. This is much higher than the 19.8 percent who opposed taking such a move.

Reflecting heightened tensions, 40.4 percent of people polled said they viewed the North as a partner in negotiations, down from 50.5 percent the year before, while 16.4 percent viewed the North as a foe, which is a gain from 10.9 percent.

The latest survey, in addition, showed 56.9 percent of respondents believing the North to be the greatest threat to national security, up from 47.3 percent a year earlier.

It said people in their 20s had the most negative view regarding to the North, with those in their 40s having the least negative perspective.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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