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2020 Report on American Attitudes Toward the Korean Peninsula

KEI’s 2020 Report on American Attitudes Toward the Korean Peninsula focuses on U.S. views on relations with South Korea, U.S. awareness of South Korean brands and cultural products, and views on North Korea and was conducted by YouGov. The results reveal that while Americans have a favorable view of South Korea and about half are supportive of maintaining U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, few Americans watched or listened to Korean cultural products in the last year. Americans also view North Korea as one of the three critical challenges for the United States, but fewer than 1-in-3 approve of the administration’s handling of North Korea.

Some key insights from the survey include:

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) have a “very favorable” or “favorable” view of South Korea, with only 11% of Americans indicating “very unfavorable” or “unfavorable” and 23% responding “not sure.”

  • 42% of Americans see South Korea as a “very” or “fairly influential” nation in the world compared to 29% who view North Korea as an influential nation.
  • 49% of Americans view South Korea as a friend to the U.S.
    • At least half of Americans would like to see the U.S. and South Korea cooperate on several issues such as international peacekeeping, global health, trade rules, and technology infrastructure.
    • Democrats are generally more likely to desire this cooperation between the U.S. and South Korea.
    • Four-in-ten Americans (40%) responded with “no opinion” to viewing South Korea as a friend of adversary.
  • 37% of Americans approve of U.S. administration’s handling of relations with South Korea. However, four-in-ten Americans are “unsure” suggesting a lack of information on the current U.S. policy towards South Korea.

Seven-in-ten Americans (71%) have a “very unfavorable” or “unfavorable” view of North Korea.

  • 68% of Americans see North Korea as an adversary of the U.S. – one of the highest of all nations or regions included.
    • Further, 38% of Americans consider North Korea among the top 3 critical foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. – trailing only the challenges presented by China and Russia.
  • 84% of Americans think it is “very important” or “important” that North Korea give up its military nuclear capabilities.

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