Americans: We'll stand by South Korea

January 02, 2014, 7:24 PM GMT+0

Half of the US public say that the US should fight alongside South Korea if it is attacked by the North, though few take Kim Jong-un's bellicose language seriously.

On New Year's Day, North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un gave his first public statement since the beginning of a party purge that started with the execution of his uncle and prominent advisor Jang Song Thaek. As well as stating that the purge has strengthened the nation "100 times", the North Korean dictator also threatened South Korea and the United States with nuclear destruction, slamming both the US and South Korea as "war maniacs". Tensions between South and North Korea have been particularly high in the past year or two, with North Korea conducting a nuclear weapons test in February 2013, though there hasn't been a major clash between the two since 2010, when North Korea shelled the border island of Yeonpyeong.

The latest research from YouGov shows that support for standing by South Korea in the event of North Korea attacking the South is high, with 50% supporting US intervention and only 21% opposing US involvement.

North Korea is viewed as posing a much greater threat to South Korea than to the United States. 45% of Americans say that North Korea poses an immediate and serious threat to South Korea, with only 15% saying the same for the US. 26% say that North Korea is only a 'minor threat' to the US, while 11% think that North Korea is not a threat at all to the US.

Despite the perception of the threat North Korea generally poses, Americans are divided on whether or not the latest threats from Pyongyang are to be taken seriously. 35% of the public say that they are 'a serious issue', while 37% say that they are 'a political stunt'. Democrats (40%) and Independents are more likely to view the threats as a stunt than a serious issue, while 50% of Republicans say that the threats are 'serious', compared to only 29% who say that they are a stunt.

Over the past year Dennis Rodman has emerged as an unlikely player in North Korea's political dramas. He has visited North Korea a number of times and has been photographed talking and joking with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, at a basketball game. Unsurprisingly, only 15% of Americans approve of this, while 59% disapprove of Rodman's high profile visits to North Korea.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty Images

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