A majority of South Koreans are in favor of the government's recent decision to place a US missile defense system on its soil, saying it is necessary to counter North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threats, a survey showed Tuesday.
In July, South Korea and the United States unveiled a plan to station a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery on the peninsula by end-2017. China has strongly objected to the plan on worries that it would undermine its strategic security interests, while Seoul has stressed that the missile defense shield poses no threat to neighboring countries.
According to the survey of 1,000 Korean people aged 19 or older by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, 53.6 percent said they supported the government's THAAD deployment decision, while 36.3 percent opposed the plan.
Of those in favor of the decision, 69.9 percent said that THAAD is necessary to cope with the missile and nuclear threats from the North, followed by 12.9 percent who cited the importance of the US-South Korea alliance as a reason for its placement here. Only
7.8 percent said that they supported the decision as they trusted the government's policy.
Of those who opposed the THAAD deployment plan, 42.4 percent cited their distrust of the government, while 19.3 percent worried that the actual deployment of the missile defense system could end up hurting the country's ties with China.
Slightly more than 16 percent singled out worries over health risks caused by THAAD's powerful radar.
The survey also showed that 59.6 percent disagreeing with Beijing's claim that THAAD will hurt China's strategic defense interest, with 53.9 percent saying they didn't want the Seoul government to second-guess its decision on THAAD.
There were still many people who remain concerned about China's possible retaliation against the THAAD placement.
Of those surveyed, 71.8 percent said there is a possibility that China could take retaliatory action. Slightly over 70 percent worried that THAAD will have a "negative" impact on bilateral ties between South Korea and China. (Yonhap)