September 30, 2023

Why it matters that South Koreans don’t think about North Korea very much

New poll shows few voters care about DPRK, meaning policy changes unlikely to win or lose support for incoming president

South Koreans still think very little about North Korea, despite the record number of missile tests this year, the summit diplomacy of 2018-19 and the historically high tensions of 2017. The lack of interest shows up in survey data, which suggests that less than 10% of South Koreans think of their northern neighbor frequently, with potentially broad implications for president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol.

National media coverage of North Korea would suggest a level of attention, especially as this coverage tends to be negative, focusing on security concerns or human rights abuses. Yet since many of these issues are long-standing, the South Korean public may have tuned out much of the coverage, focusing instead on more immediate domestic issues.