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66% of S. Korean people oppose removal of 'comfort women' statue: poll

SEOUL -- Around 66 percent of South Korean citizens oppose the removal of a statue symbolizing "comfort women," which sits in front of the Japanese Embassy here, according to a South Korean opinion poll.

    Pollster Realmeter released the results of an opinion survey on Dec. 30 regarding the relocation of the statue of a girl following the Dec. 28 agreement reached between the Japanese and South Korean governments over the wartime comfort women issue. The survey was conducted the day after Tokyo and Seoul concluded talks on the issue. According to the poll, 66.3 percent of respondents said they opposed the relocation of the statue, while 19.3 percent favored the idea.

    The Japan-South Korea agreement over the handling of the statue has been hit by a backlash in South Korea since Seoul promised to work toward appropriately solving the statue issue through discussions with related groups.

    In a breakdown by age, younger generations resist the relocation more strongly, with 86.8 percent of those in their 20s saying they were not in favor of the move while only 4.1 percent supported the statue's removal from the current location.

    Meanwhile, 32.9 percent of those who are 60 or older said they supported the relocation, while 45.1 percent said they didn't.

    When broken down by party affiliation, 49.1 percent of ruling Saenuri Party supporters opposed the relocation of the statue, while 32.9 percent approved. Among supporters of the largest opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, meanwhile, an overwhelming 79.7 percent opposed the move, with only 8 percent favoring the relocation.

    Of the non-affiliated respondents, 74.6 percent opposed the removal and 9.8 percent supported it.

    South Korean President Park Geun-hye is believed to have judged that she would be able to win understanding to some extent from her supporters and decided to go ahead and settle the dispute.

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