More than six out of 10 South Koreans willing to fight for country

Ukrainian officers sit in a bus after they were evacuated from the besieged Mariupol Azovstal steel plant near a remand prison in Olyonivka, in the Donetsk People's Republic, a contested territory in eastern Ukraine, in this May 17 photo. AP-Yonhap

By Kang Seung-woo

Nearly seven out of 10 South Korean nationals are willing to fight for their country in the event of war, according to a recent poll.

The World Values Survey polled 1,245 South Koreans, 67.4 percent of whom expressed their willingness to fight for their country, while 32.6 percent were unwilling to take up arms to defend their homeland.

South Korea ranked 40th out of 79 countries polled between 2017 and 2021 when it comes to the percentage of the population willing to fight for their country in the event of a war, but the percentage of people who are unwilling to take up arms has been steadily increasing, compared to 6.5 percent in a 1981 survey.

South Korea is technically still at war with North Korea, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Populations of countries that were invaded in the past were more willing to fight for their homeland.

Vietnam had the highest percentage of citizens willing to defend their country, at 96.4 percent, followed by Jordan at 93.8 percent, Kyrgyzstan at 92.7 percent and China at 88.6 percent.

Japan had the lowest percentage of people willing to fight a war for their country at 13.2 percent, followed by Lithuania at 32.8 percent, Spain at 33.5 percent and Macedonia at 36.2 percent.

The survey conducted in Japan showed that 48.6 percent of 1,353 respondents answered, "Don't know," which was up to 30 percentage points higher than other countries with greater proportions of their population who were unwilling to fight, raising speculation that the result was mainly due to Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which outlaws war as a means to settle disputes and the retention of armed forces for war.

Kang Seung-woo

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