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Survey: More South Korean students see unification with North as unnecessary

By Kim Kwang-ho, UPI News Korea
Survey: More South Korean students see unification with North as unnecessary
North Korea demolished the joint liaison office with South Korea located just north of the Demilitarized Zone last June. Photo courtesy of Korean Central Television

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- More than half of South Korean students in a recent government survey said unification with North Korea is necessary, but the results also showed a growing number who believe it is not.

South Korea's education and unification ministries surveyed 68,750 elementary, middle and high school students in November and found that 62.4 percent believe unification is needed, while 54.5 percent believe unification is not necessary as long as the two Koreas get along.

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More than seven decades after the Korean War started in 1950, North and South Korea remain technically at war with a cease-fire armistice agreement.

According to the government survey, released this week, 24.2 percent of the students believe that Seoul and Pyongyang do not need to unify anymore, compared to 13.7 percent who said so in 2018.

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Some survey respondents who opposed reunification worried about the economic burden that South Korea would shoulder if it merged with a widely poor North Korea, while others said they worry about social problems after unification.

Park Won-gon, a professor at Handong University, said many young South Koreans have a negative view of the North after it blew up the inter-Korean joint liaison office in June. The liaison office had previously undergone $8.6 million in South Korea-funded renovations and sat north of the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula.

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"It seems that last year's survey shows the frayed relationship between the two Koreas. The televised explosion of the liaison office might have influenced our pupils greatly," Park said.

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Son Tae-gyu, a professor at Dankook University, agreed: "Our older generation tends to feel compassion with impoverished North Korean people. By contrast, our youngsters are fed up with the North's high-handed approach," he said.

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