Poll shows Koreans back presence of U.S.

Posted in Koreas | 01-Oct-04 | Author: Chun Young-gi and Min Seong-ja| Source: Joong Ang Daily

An U.S. Army soldier stands guard in front of the U.S. Army Camp Casey, the headquarters of the 2nd US Infantry Division, at Dongducheon, north of Seoul, 08/06/04
A majority of Koreans say they believe the U.S. military presence in their country benefits national security and that any withdrawal of U.S. forces should be gradual, a recent poll shows.

In the same poll, Americans named Korea as the country that needs their troops the most.

The poll was conducted in the United States by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and in Korea by the East Asia Institute. Their results were released yesterday. The Korean institute surveyed 1,000 Korean adults and the Chicago council surveyed 1,645 Americans of which 450 are opinion leaders who are politicians and scholars.

According to the poll, 78 percent of South Koreans view the United States as helpful to the country's security and 60 percent said they support the role of U.S. forces in terms of regional stability.

When asked if U.S. forces should stay for an extended period, most South Koreans answered that the forces need to be withdrawn at some point, but not immediately. Thirteen percent said U.S. forces should remain indefinitely and 6 percent responded withdrawal should be immediate. A plurality of 43 percent said U.S. forces should be withdrawn gradually in stages and 38 percent said they should remain for a considerable period. In sum, 51 percent of those surveyed said U.S. troops should stay and 49 percent said they should be withdrawn either immediately or gradually.

Americans surveyed named Korea as the country where the United States should maintain troops for a long period: 62 percent supported the U.S. military presence in Korea, followed by Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (58%), Germany (57%), Japan (52%), Saudi Arabia (50%) and Afghanistan (47%).

A majority of Americans said the United States should intervene if North Korea ever attacks the South. The desire to see a U.S. role in any war in Korea was higher for the opinion leaders, with 82 percent in favor, while only 43 percent of the general public agreed.

Koreans said they think the United States has more influence on their country's foreign policy than the Korean president or National Assembly. When asked what the greatest influence on foreign policy was, Koreans gave a 6.3 out of a 10-point scale to the Korean president and 5.8 point to the National Assembly. The score for the United States was 6.6.

The poll showed that Koreans appreciate America more than Americans esteem Korea. On a thermometer scale with 0 degrees meaning very cold and 100 degrees meaning very warm, and 50 degrees being neither cold nor warm, Koreas rated the United States warmly, giving 58 degrees. Americans' rating for Korea, however, was 49 degrees.

When asked which country Korea should be close to, 53 percent of Koreans named the United States, followed by China (24%), the European Union (10%), and Japan (4%).

Ninety percent of Koreans answered that the strategic alliance between the United States and Korea should remain after the reunification of the two Koreas.