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JPI Policy Forum
Public Opinion in Neighboring Countries and Public Diplomacy By : HAN Intaek (Director of Research, Jeju Peace Institute), KOBAYASHI Somei (Associate Professor, Nihon University), KIM Sang Kyou (Professor, Institute of Chinese Studies, Hanyang University) JPI Policy Forum: 2018-7/8/9
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Public Opinions in the US and Public Diplomacy toward the US

     As North Korea has developed nuclear missiles to the extent that they could threaten the United States, the American public has come to recognize the North Korean threat clearly and map out how to respond to it. Therefore, they can no longer be approached merely in terms of “knowledge public diplomacy” or “cultural public diplomacy.” It is time to carry out “policy public diplomacy” to communicate with them and coordinate the policies of the two countries.
   According to an opinion poll, the American public seem to have a shared supra-partisan consensus about the North Korean nuclear threat, the importance of the ROK-US alliance, and countermeasures needed to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Even if the Democrats call the tune by seizing control of the House of Representatives after the midterm elections, they are unlikely to bring any unexpected change to U.S. policy toward North Korea.
   According to a survey, Americans support the establishment of diplomatic ties with North Korea, or a partial withdrawal of U.S. troop from the South as a compensation measure for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament but remain lukewarm toward economic support for the North and disapprove of a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula. South Korea should bear this in mind when engaging in negotiations to denuclearize the North and pursuing public diplomacy.​



Changes in Chinese Perceptions of Korea and Korea’s Policy in Response


   Korea and China are closer to each other than any other in terms of cultural similarity, geographical proximity and shared historical experiences. However, after the Korean War, they cut off bilateral relations. The reduction of military threats following the end of the Cold War accelerated the normalization of relations between neighboring countries amid the post-Cold War changes in the international community. South Korea and China were in need of bilateral cooperation since Korea had to improve inter-Korean ties through its northern policy to stabilize and unify the Korean peninsula, while China had to carry out its reform and door-opening policies. Such strategic motives led to the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1992, and to a deeper economic interdependence through continued expansion of trade with and investment in each other
     While economic exchanges between them produced exponential growth, they started to experience friction and conflict. At the same time, historical issues worsened negative perceptions about each other. Furthermore, the security issue of a THAAD deployment almost dismantled the ties between Korea and China.
   The seriously negative perceptions about each other are feared to worsen these ties further. China is a significant political and economic stakeholder, exerting a powerful influence on Korean peninsula issues. Hence, it is essential to assess the potential impact of the Chinese perception of Korea, and carefully analyze any surface changes. South Korea should examine the fundamental factors behind changes in the perception of the Chinese public about Korea, and map out how to respond, accordingly.


Japanese Social Sentiment about Korea: Public Opinions Mirrored in Mainstream Media on the Forced Labor of Koreans


   Since the second half of 2018, especially after the ruling by the South Korean Supreme Court on compensation for the forced labor of Koreans by the Japanese, social sentiment in Japan about Korea has sharply taken a turn for the worse. This research paper analyzed the news coverage of the ruling by mainstream daily newspapers in Japan to find out the opinions of Japanese society about Korea. Major nationwide newspapers have criticized President Moon Jae-in and his government, but there were differences in their critical tone and rationale. It is necessary to understand the diversity of public opinion in Japan before starting to communicate with the Japanese people and engaging in public diplomacy.

   As reported by the newspapers, there exists a gap between Korea and Japan in historical perception, with Japanese society remaining divided over the history issue as well. Hence, the two countries should acknowledge the differences and draw a roadmap that will allow them to get over indulgences in national sentiment about the past to the end of pioneering forward looking cooperation and development. Whether the roadmap can be shared by Korean and Japanese societies remains a future task for both of them. 



Author HAN Intaek (Director of Research, Jeju Peace Institute)
KOBAYASHI Somei (Associate Professor, Nihon University)
KIM Sang Kyou (Professor, Institute of Chinese Studies, Hanyang University)
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