UPDATE : 2019.5.26 SUN 13:56
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Half of Koreans think gov't should follow dialogue with N. Korea: poll51.4 percent of people supported the peace talks

Half of South Koreans say their government should seek dialogue with North Korea, a
survey showed, as inter-Korean ties remained stalled amid the deadlocked nuclear talks
between the US and North Korea.

Of the 1,003 adults surveyed in April, 51.4 percent of people said the government should follow talks with Pyongyang, according to the state-run Korea Institute for National
Unification. It marked the first time for the tally to surpass 50 percent since the institute
included the question in the annual survey in 2016.

The proportion of people who viewed the Kim regime as a partner with which having
talks and agreements is possible increased from 8.8 percent in 2017 to 26.6 percent in
2018 and 33.5 percent this year, though those who answered negatively to the question
still stood higher at 39.2 percent in the latest survey.

Photo taken on Sept. 20, 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un review an honor guard at Samjiyon Airport, after arriving for an excursion to Mount Paekdu.

The proportion of people who said the Kim regime would be an impossible or difficult
partner to have talks and agreements with has been decreasing from 76.3 percent in 2017 to 48 percent in 2018.

The institute attributed the change to the government's continued efforts to improve inter-Korean ties since last year.

Still, 72.4 percent of respondents said North Korea will not give up its nuclear program, and only 28.7 percent said more economic sanctions will lead to the North's abandonment of its nuclear weapons.

The poll also showed that 64.3 percent of the respondents agreed that cross-border
economic exchanges should continue even in times of political and military tensions.

Yet the majority of South Korans -- 60 percent of the respondents -- reacted negatively to whether the South should help the North overcome current economic difficulties even if
that causes immediate losses to the South.

The proportion of people who said unification is necessary, meanwhile, stood at 65.6
percent. The tally had spiked from 57.8 percent in 2017 to 70.7 percent last year amid a
series of inter-Korean talks, including three summits between President Moon Jae-in
and the North's Kim.

In response to a separate question, more people -- 46 percent in 2017, 48.6 percent in
2018 and 49.5 percent this year -- agreed that unification is not necessary as long as the
two Koreas can peacefully co-exist without war.

"For most South Koreans, unification is no longer an absolute goal to achieve at all costs,"
the institute said. "We need to develop a new argument to persuade individuals why
unification matters."

The latest poll was conducted from April 5-25. It has a margin of error of plus or
minus 3.1 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level. (Yonhap)

Lee Sam-sun  edt@koreapost.com

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