Most South Koreans welcome North Korea's change of heart but 64 percent doubt sincerity

By Jennie Oh  |  March 11, 2018 at 10:56 PM
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SEOUL, March 11 (UPI) -- Three in four South Koreans welcome North Korea's warmer tone on inter-Korean relations and its willingness to talk about denuclearization with the United States.

At the same time however, most remain distrustful of the regime's sincerity.

A Realmeter poll showed Monday that 73 percent of 500 South Koreans surveyed said they welcomed North Korea's change of attitude.

Those in their twenties expressed the most optimism, with 81 percent happy about the recent developments.

However, most of the respondents remained suspicious of the North's true intentions, with 64 percent saying they did not trust the regime. People in their twenties were the most distrustful, at 74 percent.

27 percent said they welcomed and trusted the North.

The pollster said public sentiment toward the North appeared to have warmed significantly since January, before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games were held, when 90 percent of South Koreans said Pyongyang would never give up its nukes, No Cut News reported.

Still, doubts still remain due to the North's track record of going back on its promises.

"It wasn't just once or twice that the North showed a sudden change of attitude. Most recently in January, the North suddenly canceled the visit of an arts troupe to South Korea," Lee Taek-su, head of Realmeter said.

North Korea has notoriously violated international agreements on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, walked out of the Six Party Talks in 2008, and also breached United Nations sanctions on the regime.

Its continued nuclear and missile provocations and threats against South Korea and the United States have also generated distrust toward the regime, especially among the younger generation.

"Kim Jong Un is also a very young leader so many in their twenties are highly critical of him and see him as a overprivileged leader," Lee said.

The survey was conducted on March 9 with a confidence level of 95 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

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