Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Edward Jennings

Executive Summary

South Koreans’ interest in and aspirations for unification have decreased recently. This decrease of desires for unification is one of the obstacles to achieve unification. This study analyzes the change of South Koreans’ perceptions of unification and examines various factors that affect those perceptions toward unification. I use unification perceptions survey data from 2007 to 2014 collected by the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies Seoul National University.

The dependent variables of this study are perceptions of the necessity of unification and the possibility of unification. Independent variables are classified into four types. They are expected benefit factors, the political factor, national identity factors and demographic factors. Expected benefit factors are perceptions of the economic consequences of unification for South Korea and for the individual. The political factor is ideology. The national identity factors are perception of North Korea and friendship with North Koreans. The demographic factors are sex, education, income and age.

I use multiple regressions to test the effect of independent variables. Perception of national benefit and personal benefit, ideology, perception of North Korea, friendship with North Koreans, sex, age, and education have a significant effect on the dependent variables.

The results of this study show that a large number of people are pessimistic about the necessity and possibility of unification. Also, the perception of unification is different according to perception of benefit, ideology, national identity and demographic factors such as sex, age, and education. To gain the support of the public for unification, the South Korean government will need to address the factors identified in this study.