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Cablegate: Dprk Missiles Provoke Public Anger at Rokg And

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #2458/01 2020932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 210932Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9238
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0974
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 7422
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1051
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/COMUSKOREA J5 SEOUL KOR
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//OSD/ISA/EAP//

UNCLAS SEOUL 002458

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PREF PGOV KS KN
SUBJECT: DPRK MISSILES PROVOKE PUBLIC ANGER AT ROKG AND
JAPAN


1. (U) SUMMARY: The July 5 DPRK missile tests appear to be
causing public ire, but not necessarily at the DPRK.
According to polling agencies and our own informal
"man-on-the-street" survey, many South Korean citizens are
angry at their government's relatively slow response to the
launches. More still are angry at Japan's reaction, which
was perceived as being too extremist. Few expressed outrage
at North Korea or any sense of panic. END SUMMARY

POLLS SHOW DISGUST AT ROKG AND JAPAN
------------------------------------

2. (U) On July 12, Heo Jin-jae from Gallup Korea told us that
immediately after the launches, South Korean citizens seemed
"indifferent" to the North Korean missile tests. However,
more recent internet polling indicates that opinions are
forming that the ROKG responded too slowly, while Japan
responded promptly, but too aggressively. Maeil Economy News,
in an ongoing internet opinion poll that began July 7, found
that out of 2,556 respondents so far, 86 percent said they
felt ROK security policy was inadequate compared to
neighboring countries; 69 percent indicated that the ROKG
should take the present opportunity to reevaluate the issue
of humanitarian assistance in general. In a poll of over
2000 people conducted by Nate News from July 10 to 17, 91
percent said that regardless of the North Korea missile
launches, the ROKG should strongly oppose Japan's discussion
of pre-emptive strikes.

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KOREAN STREET MIFFED AT ROKG
----------------------------

3. (U) Similar themes surfaced in our July 16 to 19
nonscientific survey of about 30 South Koreans in downtown
Seoul. A man in his fifties said, "It is our fault. Starting
with Kim Dae-Jung, we kept giving them (NK) so much and
received nothing in return." Another man, a store clerk in
his forties remarked, "We have spoiled North Korea and now
the situation is out of our hands."

4. (U) Many thought that the ROKG should have initially sent
a stronger message condemning the missile launches. An
elderly woman in her seventies spoke to this point: "I am
sick and tired of the idiots in the Blue House who keep
catering to the North. The government will never learn from
their mistakes." Moreover, some people lamented the ROKG's
decision to continue with the ministerial level talks held in
Busan the previous week. They seem to consider these talks a
failure that only undermined the ROKG's credibility in the
eyes of the international community.

5. (U) The majority of those we spoke with expressed mixed
sentiments about an appropriate response to North Korea. An
office worker in his fifties said, "I don't know what to
think. I do not think it is right to support North Korea for
shooting missiles, but at the same time, I do not think we
should give them the impression that we are abandoning them."
Another passer-by, a man in his thirties said, "If we don't
provide assistance to North Korea, it will collapse. If the
North collapses, the greatest burden will fall on our
shoulders. So we don't want it to collapse. We cannot give
too much, but we cannot isolate the North or we lose any
leverage altogether. So far the current government has
failed to find that strategic middle ground."

WHAT ARE JAPAN'S INTENTIONS?
----------------------------

6. (U) The South Koreans we spoke were united in their
overtly negative attitude toward Japan, in particular, its
draft UN Security Council resolution that included a
reference to Chapter VII of the UN Charter. An office worker
in his fifties stated, "I am suspicious of Japan's
intentions. When you look back on our history, you know that
you can never trust Japan." A woman in her mid-twenties
agreed, saying that "Japan has never been a good neighbor.
Although it is an Asian country, it takes on a self-righteous
attitude and behaves as if it is above the rest of Asia."
Another man in his late thirties who claimed to have been a
pro-democracy demonstrator during his college days replied,
"The Japanese public character is radically different from
the Korean public character. We simply cannot understand
each other."

COMMENT
-------


7. (SBU) Overall, there is little sense of panic, or fear
that the DPRK poses any threat to the personal safety of
South Koreans. Likewise, there are relatively few people
expressing outrage at North Korean behavior. Rather, it is
the impression that the Korean government did not appear as
aggressive as the Japanese government in responding to this
crisis that has irked most Koreans. Also, the fear of
Japanese regional aggression appears to have overwhelmed any
concern that the DPRK may direct its missiles to the south.

8. (U) This message was drafted by two interns, Daisy Kim
and Su Youn Kim.
VERSHBOW

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