Ma­jor­ity of South Kore­ans wel­come Kim’s visit

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim Yoo-chul [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

If North Korean leader Kim Jong-un comes to Seoul within this year as he promised, he would be wel­comed by a ma­jor­ity of peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent poll.

Given the lim­ited time for prepa­ra­tion, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts say it would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for Kim to visit by the end of the year. But some raise the pos­si­bil­ity of it tak­ing place given the sev­eral un­ex­pected events that have oc­curred over the past months.

South Kore­ans are ready to ac­cept what would be a his­toric visit.

A sur­vey con­ducted by Real­me­ter of 500 South Kore­ans over age 19, showed that 61 per­cent would wel­come Kim’s visit if it helps to im­prove in­ter-Korean re­la­tions and ac­cel­er­ate the on­go­ing peace process.

Thirty one per­cent of re­spon­dents re­sponded that they didn’t sup­port the visit claim­ing it would be a “fake peace show.”

De­mo­graph­i­cally, re­spon­dents in their 40s with lib­eral po­lit­i­cal views backed Kim’s visit to the South the most.

Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­is­ter Cho My­oung-gyon told law­mak­ers Fri­day that the min­istry had sug­gested sev­eral dates to high-rank­ing North Korean of­fi­cials, how­ever, he de­clined to spec­ify which ones, adding he was wait­ing for a re­ply.

Chief pres­i­den­tial sec­re­tary Yoon Young-chan sent text mes­sages to lo­cal re­porters who spec­u­lated that Kim’s trip to Seoul would hap­pen be­tween Dec. 18 and Dec. 20 say­ing this was “sim­ply un­true.” Yoon didn’t elab­o­rate fur­ther.

Moon ear­lier said Kim’s visit was “still pos­si­ble” and stressed it would pro­vide huge mo­men­tum to ad­vance stalled de­nu­cle­ariza­tion talks be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Py­ongyang.

In ad­di­tion, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is hop­ing to meet his North Korean coun­ter­part in ei­ther Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary next year.

Sev­enty-four per­cent of re­spon­dents in their 40s said they would wel­come Kim. The ma­jor­ity of re­spon­dents in their 30s (66 per­cent) and 20s (61 per­cent) were also pos­i­tive about the visit. One in­ter­est­ing find­ing from the sur­vey was that more than half of those in their 50s (60 per­cent) and 60s (50 per­cent) also sup­ported the visit.

If Kim does come to Seoul, he will be the first North Korean leader to of­fi­cially visit the South. Kim’s fa­ther Kim Jong-il pledged to visit the South af­ter his sum­mit with the late Pres­i­dent Kim Dae-jung in 2000, but this never ma­te­ri­al­ized be­fore he died in 2011.

Those with lib­eral and neu­tral po­lit­i­cal views sup­ported Kim’s visit, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, while 49 per­cent of con­ser­va­tives re­mained neg­a­tive.

The op­po­si­tion par­ties are say­ing Kim Jong-un “should apol­o­gize” for his regime’s 2010 at­tacks that killed 50 South Kore­ans be­fore com­ing to Seoul. They also said the North’s leader must visit the Na­tional Ceme­tery to pat his re­spects to fallen South Korean he­roes from the Korean War.

Kim told Moon at their meet­ing in Py­ongyang in Septem­ber this year that he was hop­ing to visit Seoul. Moon also told Kim ho could visit Mount Halla on Jeju Is­land if he wished to.

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