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Poll Finds Strong Distrust of North Korea Among South Koreans

FILE - South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks to the National Assembly in Seoul, Oct. 29, 2014.

A survey by a South Korean government organization revealed Thursday that a majority of South Koreans strongly back Seoul's policies toward North Korea.

The National Unification Advisory Council, South Korea’s presidential consultative body, surveyed 1,000 South Korean citizens late last month. When asked to name the best part of President Park Geun-hye’s policy on North Korea, they said it was her “strong counteraction to Pyongyang’s provocations and efforts to contain them.”

Nine out of 10 people polled said they distrusted the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, while 62 percent of the respondents said they did not trust the government in Pyongyang under any circumstances. Another 30 percent surveyed said they were “more or less distrustful” of the regime.

Some 45 percent surveyed said they considered North Korea to be rather unstable, while another 42 percent said the regime was very unstable.

Almost 80 percent of the respondents said the North Korean human rights situation was dire.

The distrust of Pyongyang appears to have real policy implications, according to the data. Sixty-five percent said humanitarian assistance to the North should be allowed only when there is a clear indication the aid is being delivered to ordinary North Koreans and not the leadership.

Sixty-three percent of those polled also said there would be no changes in relations between the two Koreas in the coming year.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.