Do South Koreans Support a Peace Treaty With the North? – The Diplomat

Does the South Korean public assist a peace treaty with North Korea? My authentic survey work reveals that, regardless of latest missile assessments by North Korea and the shortage of significant inter-Korean dialogue, a transparent majority of South Koreans approve of the concept. Even amongst those that had deliberate to vote for Yoon Suk-yeol, the conservative presidential candidate (and now president-elect) a skinny majority assist a peace treaty, in distinction to Yoon’s rhetoric a couple of harder stance towards North Korea and the expectation that his administration will not proceed President Moon Jae-in’s name for a peace treaty with out first denuclearization efforts by Pyongyang. However, the general public might view a treaty as aspirational, not contemplating the logistics or feasibility now, permitting Yoon to finish such overtures.

Yoon’s election victory is anticipated to result in a hawkish pivot in South Korea’s coverage with North Korea and away from the engagement efforts underneath Moon. At the primary inter-Korean summit between Moon and North Korean chief Kim Jong Un, each side declared assist for efforts to result in a peace treaty that will formally finish the Korean War. However, there was little progress past this summary settlement, and no summits since 2019. Moon, nonetheless, remained optimistic in regards to the resumption of talks and continued to push for a peace treaty. Thanks to Moon’s insistence, the U.S. and South Korea agreed in precept on an finish of conflict declaration, regardless of little participation by North Korea main as much as the announcement.

For its half, North Korea routinely calls for the top of the United States’ “hostile policy” as a essential precondition for a treaty, whereas the U.S. has resisted taking such a step with out concrete proof of denuclearization. Moreover, North Korea examined 9 missiles this 12 months previous to the South Korean presidential election. Such bellicose actions could be anticipated to bitter South Korean public curiosity in a peace treaty.

A peace treaty would have symbolic significance, sustaining hope for, if not reunification, at the least peaceable coexistence, particularly at a time the place extra South Koreans would select the latter over the previous. However, the sensible advantages of a treaty are unclear, particularly as North Korea continues its missile program. Similarly, the logistics of all events signing a peace treaty, which presumably would additionally embody the United States and China, appear unlikely.

As a candidate, Yoon appeared disinterested in these end-of-war efforts, stating {that a} treaty would solely be “will be done only on paper with ink” so long as North Korea has nuclear capabilities. This maybe will get to the guts of the problem, the place South Koreans might usually be supportive of a peace treaty, however differ on whether or not there must be no specific preconditions or whether or not concessions from North Korea, similar to verifiable denuclearization, should come first.

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To tackle public perceptions, I performed an internet survey earlier than the South Korean presidential election, by way of Macromill Embrain on February 18-22. In this survey, I requested 945 South Koreans “Do you support a peace treaty between South Korea and North Korea?”

Overall, a transparent majority assist such actions (71.64 %). However, amongst supporters of the 2 important candidates we see clear distinctions, with the overwhelming majority of Lee Jae-myung supporters in favor (92.24 %) in comparison with a slim majority of Yoon’s supporters (50.37 %). Several elements might clarify these patterns. Support amongst those that have been planning to vote for Lee could be per liberal-progressive assist for “Sunshine Policy”-type applications that intention to heat inter-Korean relations. In distinction, Yoon’s supporters, per conservative events extra usually, could also be apprehensive of negotiations with the authoritarian state, which candidate Yoon known as a “archetype of a failed state,” particularly negotiations that probably reward North Korea with out requiring a change in conduct. Still, contemplating the shortage of progress towards hotter relations throughout the peninsula, that majorities assist a peace treaty is shocking.

Breaking down assist by political ideology gives extra perception. Admittedly, ideology corresponds strongly with vote intention, with over 60 % of these figuring out as left of middle (1-3 on a seven-point ideology measure) supporting Lee and people proper of middle (5-7) supporting Yoon. However, when damaged down by political ideology quite than vote selection, we see a transparent decline in assist as one strikes throughout a seven-point progressive-conservative scale. Among the very progressive, 90.48 % of respondents assist a treaty, dropping to solely 29.41 % amongst the very conservative.

Regression evaluation offers additional perception. Controlling for demographic elements in addition to ideology and candidate assist, solely age and assist for Lee positively correspond with supporting a peace treaty, whereas ideology and assist for Yoon negatively correspond with assist. Switching out the candidates for his or her respective events produces related outcomes. In addition, those that evaluated Moon’s presidency extra favorably, controlling for partisan and demographic elements, have been additionally extra prone to assist a peace treaty.

What does this imply for President-elect Yoon? Admittedly, the restrictions of this survey work don’t permit us to establish the burden the South Korean public offers to a peace treaty in comparison with different elements similar to housing or jobs. Nor can it seize whether or not the general public has absolutely thought-about the complexities concerned in such association. In different phrases, the findings could also be a extra visceral response to the concept of a peace treaty and never consider what could be essential for it to have greater than symbolic that means. Yoon should additionally take care of a North Korea that has determined to scrap its moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing and could also be getting ready for a nuclear check, incentivizing a extra hardline stance whereas limiting assist for even rhetoric about engagement.

Thus, whereas a public could seem supportive of a peace treaty, latest actions by North Korea in addition to home issues in South Korea will possible lead Yoon to spend little effort selling such efforts.

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