December 07, 2023

The real reasons why South Koreans don’t care about North Korea

Increasing interest in inter-Korean issues requires creative debate and more public participation in DPRK policymaking

South Koreans, particularly younger generations, appear increasingly disinterested in unification or their government’s policies toward North Korea: Seoul National University’s 2020 Unification Perception Survey survey found that just 35% of South Koreans in their 20s say unification is needed as opposed to 65% of those in their 50s.

This real phenomenon is often casually cited as proof that South Koreans are indifferent about engagement with North Korea. This position tacitly lends credence to policies that eschew engagement, such as those employed by the two most recent conservative administrations. It also suggests that other, more pressing concerns have outstripped inter-Korean relations in importance.