SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- A majority of South Koreans consider positively the possibility of improvement in North Korea's human rights situation, a recent survey showed Thursday.
The survey conducted on 1,000 adults late last year showed that 65 percent of the respondents were positive about a possible improvement, according to the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.
The comparable figure for 2017, when tensions on the Korean Peninsula were heightened, was 16.7 percent.
Yoon Yeo-sang, an official at the organization, said the latest survey result appears to reflect an "illusion" following the recent thaw on the peninsula which began with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's peace offensive.
Until the peace overtures, the North spent years accelerating its nuclear and long-range missile programs, conducting a series of test launches and explosions.
According to the survey, 85.4 percent of respondents said North Koreans' human rights are in a grave situation. The figure is down from the 95.7 percent tallied in 2017.
Of the total, 38.3 percent said North Korea's human rights situation is improving, while 45.8 percent said the situation remains unchanged and another 8.9 percent said it is deteriorating.
North Korea has long been labeled one of the world's worst human rights violators. The communist regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and tightly controls the flow of outside information.
The North has bristled at such criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to undermine the regime.
Five years after its full nuke armament claim, N. Korea's threat becomes real, further complicated
(News Focus) S. Korea grapples with calls for nuclear armament
Talk of 'normalizing' GSOMIA raises hope, skepticism around Seoul-Tokyo ties
S. Korea, U.S., Japan close ranks amid growing N.K. threats
N. Korea says month-old virus crisis under control, but skepticism lingers