South Koreans' impressions of Japanese are steadily improving, but their growing affection is not reciprocated. The two countries also differ in their outlook for the North Korean nuclear crisis, with most Japanese pessimistic about the future.
The East Asia Institute, Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies and the Japanese non-profit think tank Genron announced the results of a survey of mutual attitudes on Monday. The poll has been conducted annually since 2013 and the latest one covered 2,014 adults in both countries.
The proportion of South Koreans with favorable views of the Japanese rose from 21.3 percent in 2016 to 28.3 percent this year, but in Japan the proportion with positive views of South Koreans fell from 29.1 percent in 2016 to 22.9 percent this year.
Some 73.5 percent of South Koreans cited kindness and punctuality as the reason they have favorable views on Japanese people, while 50.7 percent of Japanese said they find Korea interesting due to the popularity of Korean pop culture.
Sohn Yul at the East Asia Institute said, "This is the result of improving perceptions of Japan after a large number of Koreans in their 20s and 30s visited Japan and got to know them better."
Yasushi Kudo, head of Genron NPO, said, "Japanese people do not dislike Koreans, but their interest in Korea has waned because they feel bilateral relations are perpetually troubled due to historical disputes."
But while some 54.8 percent of South Koreans think bilateral relations are bad, but that view is only shared by 40.6 percent of Japanese, down 10.8 percentage points and 17.1 percentage points from last year.
When it comes to issues that need to be resolved, 82.1 percent of South Koreans and 38.7 percent of Japanese cited the Dokdo islets, to which Japan maintains a flimsy colonial-era claim, while 78.1 percent of South Koreans and 54.7 percent of Japanese cited disagreements on other aspects of shared history, and 73.5 percent of South Koreans and 42.2 percent of Japanese cited the question of compensating women mobilized as sex slaves by imperial Japan.