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2021 Report on American Attitudes towards the U.S.-ROK Alliance and North Korea Policy

KEI’s 2021 Report on American Attitudes on the U.S.-ROK Alliance and North Korea Policy summarizes results from a survey commissioned by KEI and conducted by YouGov on May 6th to May 10th, 2021 in advance of the U.S.-ROK summit on May 21st, 2021. The survey asked Americans their views on the U.S.-South Korea relationship, North Korea policy, and the U.S.’ role in the East Asian region.

Some key insights from the survey include:

  •  61% of Americans have a “very favorable” or “favorable” view of South Korea. Only 13% of Americans have an “unfavorable” or “not at all favorable” view of South Korea, and 27% of respondents answered “not sure.
    • The results are a slight decrease from the 2020 KEI-YouGov survey results. In August 2020, 66% of Americans had a “very favorable” or “favorable” view of South Korea.
    • 44% of Americans view South Korea as a critical partner of the U.S.
  • 69% of Americans support the U.S. following South Korea’s lead in denuclearization talks with North Korea, with 61% of Americans feeling it is important for the U.S. and South Korea to cooperate on North Korea-related issues.
    • 75% of Americans say it is “very important” or “important” for the U.S. to reach an agreement for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons.
    • 54% of Americans support a preliminary deal with North Korea that partially dismantles its nuclear weapons capabilities. 13% would not support a deal and 34% are not sure.
    • 57% of Americans view North Korea as an adversary, which was the highest percentage among available country options which also included China (48%), Russia (52%), and Iran (48%).
  • 65% of Americans think the U.S. should work with other nations to manage China’s growing military and economic influence in East Asia. 6% said the U.S should work alone and 8% said the U.S. should take no action.
    • Of the presented critical foreign policy challenge options that the U.S. should address, the top choice was the ongoing COVID-19 crisis (40%) followed by competition with China (24%). While only 15% of Americans ranked North Korea’s nuclear capabilities as the top critical challenge to the U.S., 68% of respondents ranked it as a top-three challenge among five presented options.
  • 37% of Americans said the U.S. should play a role in reducing tensions between South Korea and Japan, with 28% of Americans indicating the U.S. should not play a role and 34% responding “not sure.”

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