The Korea Herald


4 out of 10 Korean youths say 'reunification not necessary'

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : March 18, 2024 - 15:34

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Four out of 10 students in South Korea believe that reunification between the divided Koreas is no longer necessary, a government survey showed.

The survey conducted in October last year by the Ministry of Unification involving 73,991 students aged 6 to 18 across the country comes amid escalating inter-Korean tensions. Pyongyang has conducted five rounds of cruise missile tests so far this year.

Some 38.9 percent of the respondents responded that reunification is "not necessary," marking a record high since the survey was first conducted in 2014. The percentage of students who responded this way has steadily increased in recent years, recording 24.2 percent in 2020, 25 percent in 2021 and 31.7 percent in 2022, respectively.

The proportion who replied that reunification is "necessary" was 49.8 percent, the first time the figure fell below the 50 percent mark since 2014.

Students' interest in reunification has also faded recently.

The percentage of respondents who said they were "not interested" in the issue of unification came to 28.3 percent last year, increasing from 27 percent from the previous year. The figure was 20.2 percent in 2020 and 22.4 percent in 2021.

Negative perceptions of North Korea have also strengthened, with 80.6 percent of students saying they are concerned about the possibility of military conflict on the Korean Peninsula due to North Korean provocations.

While students who viewed North Korea as a cooperative partner dwindled to 32 percent, a 6.6 percent point decline on-year, those who viewed Pyongyang as an adversary increased to 12.5 percent, up 1.6 percent point in the same period.

"North Korea's provocations have fueled the South Korean students' negative perceptions of reunification and North Korea in general," the Ministry of Unification said. The ministry pledged to "continue to raise the awareness of the need for reunification among future generations."