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Political feuds biggest obstacle to social cohesion: survey

Dec. 29, 2015 - 18:11 By 옥현주
Koreans pointed to political feuds as the biggest reason for deteriorating social conflicts in the country, a state-led survey showed Tuesday.

According to the poll by the Presidential Committee for National Cohesion, 51.8 percent of the respondents said that the political wrangling between the ruling party and opposition bloc contributed most to worsening social confrontations.

In the multiple-choice survey of 2,000 Koreans aged 19 and over, the wealth gap was chosen as the second-biggest factor (40.3 percent) and personal selfishness (36.4 percent) as the third reason for social strife in the country.

The majority of those surveyed, or 75 percent, viewed conflicts among different classes as the worst, followed by labor-management (68.9 percent), ideological clashes (67.7 percent) and regional conflicts (55.9 percent).

The survey was released by a committee set up by President Park Geun-hye upon her inauguration to champion one of her key pledges of national integration. The administration has been upping its pressure on the rival parties to endorse stalled bills, including those on labor reform, blaming them for taking the nation‘s economy hostage for their own political interests.

The most urgent matter to be tackled is the ideological war (44 percent), followed by labor-management conflict (33.4 percent) and regional conflict (27.8 percent), the respondents said.

One in 7 respondents picked the nation’s rapid economic development as South Korea’s proudest achievement since its independence from Japan in 1945.

With four reform agendas -- the labor, education, public and finance sectors -- hanging in the balance, 59.9 percent of respondents chose labor market reform as the priority in promoting social unity.

Asked what constitutes “social integration,” 23.6 percent of the surveyed pointed to “respect for law and order,” followed by “freedom that entails responsibility” (21.9 percent) and “coexistence of various values” (20.3 percent).

Those aged 60 or over stressed patriotism most, while those in their 20s and 30s emphasized freedom and a variety of values, illustrating a generational rift in perceiving social unity.

On a scale of 1 to 5 from least to most divided, the level of social conflicts stood at 3.65, while that of social cohesion was 2.33, according to the poll.

Conducted by pollster Research and Research from Oct. 23-26 by phone, the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

By Ock Hyun-ju (