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More S. Koreans view N. Korea as enemy: poll

All News 21:01 January 18, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) - A growing number of South Koreans view North Korea as an enemy, following the steady escalation of cross-border tensions in the past decade, a nationwide poll showed Monday.

The survey carried out by the East Asia Institute (EAI), an independent think tank, showed 41 percent of respondents believed Pyongyang to be Seoul's enemy as of last year, up 2.7-fold from just 15.3 percent in 2005. The number is also up significantly from 31.9 percent tallied in 2010.

It said the rise is attributed to inter-Korean tensions that have sparked numerous clashes along the land and sea demarcation lines, resulting in death and injury to South Korean armed forces and civilians. This has hurt the North's image among ordinary people.

"In effect, four out of 10 people now think the North is the country's enemy," EAI said. It added that while 52.1 percent of people living in the country considered the North as brethren in 2005, this favorable perception dropped to 42 percent in 2015.

The latest poll then showed that support for President Park Geun-hye's stance that a unified Korea will be a "bonanza" not only for the two Koreas but all neighboring countries falling across the board. The chief executive outlined her views in 2014.

Among people in their 20s, support fell to 32.4 percent in 2015 from 45.6 percent the year before. For those in their 50s, support backtracked 11.2 percentage points to 50.5 percent. Numbers for people in their 40s and 30s were both down some 7 percentage points during the one-year period to 49.7 percent and 37.7 percent, respectively. Even among people in their 60s, who generally support Park, backing for her views on reunification and its possible benefits dropped 1.9 percentage points to 60.5 percent in 2015.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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