April 8th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Worries about North Korean threat at all time high

Washington (CNN) - As North Korea increases its alarming threats against South Korea and the United States the past few weeks, a new national survey suggests that Americans are listening.

And a CNN/ORC International poll also indicates that for the first time, a majority of the public is pessimistic that the situation involving North Korea's missile program can be solved by diplomatic and economic means alone.

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According to the survey, 41% of Americans now characterize North Korea an immediate threat to the United States, an all-time high for that measure.

"If North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to get the attention of the American public, his strategy is starting to work," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The 41% who now consider North Korea an immediate threat to the United States is up 13 percentage points in less than a month."

READ MORE: North Korea says it's pulling workers out of joint industrial zone

Another 41% say that North Korea is a long-term threat to the U.S and 16% say the isolated regime is not a threat.

North Korea has issued a catalog of alarming threats against the South and the U.S. in the past several weeks, sharpening its rhetoric after the U.N. Security Council imposed stricter sanctions for Pyongyang's latest underground nuclear test, which took place in February. The strong words have put the region on edge.

South Korea said Sunday that it believed Pyongyang could conduct a missile test this week after recently moving the necessary components to the coast.

READ MORE: North Korea shows signs of preparing for nuclear test, South says

According to the poll, only 46% of the public says the crisis can be successfully resolved with diplomatic or economic means alone, with 51% disagreeing.

"For the first time, Americans are pessimistic that the situation involving North Korea can be resolved using only economic and diplomatic means," says Holland. "On previous occasions when tensions with North Korea were running high, most Americans thought that diplomacy would be enough, although that number has dropped over the years as those tensions have re-emerged time after time."

Should the U.S. use troops to defend South Korea if that country is attacked by the north?

The survey indicates that six in ten would support a military response to an attack on South Korea, with a majority of all demographic groups approving that action.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.

READ MORE: Don't be afraid, Seoul's message to tourists

Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • North Korea • Polls
soundoff (364 Responses)
  1. oldleftcoastdude

    Having 41% of Americans concerned is not good for Kim, as it only means that if push comes to shove, he'll be squashed like a bug.

    April 8, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. ryan

    The only reason why people are "concerned" is because this news is in the media. Have all the media outlets talk about another country two times a day and Americans will feel "concerned" as well.

    April 8, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. Kelly51

    "It is in our interest to see that China and Mongolia prosper." No one wishes any people of any nation to fail financially, but during these shaky economic times in America, with her increasing trade deficits tilted toward the far east, I will need further explanation of how Communist Asia's increased prosperity aids the USA, before I agree to backing "a new world order."- Joe Biden

    April 8, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. A Bingos

    War with N Khorea is inevitable, or at least ought to be at this point. If the North Khorean dictatorship is not dismantled now, sooner than later, they would have acquired a real nuclear bomb, and the means to deliver it. And anybody who still thinks that the erratic and unpredictable Kim dynasty can be trusted not to use Nuclear bombs is naive.

    Yes, in terms of human lives lost, war with N Khorea will be very costly for all its neighbours. But it will be cheaper to do it now than later. War with a fully-armed nuclear North Khorea will be infinitely worse. So let us get it over with already. Dismantle the utterly stupid and self-centered Kim dynasty, get rid of the long-term threat to South Khorea and the rest of the world, and free the North Khorean people who have been suffering this self-serving dictatorship for 60 years.

    April 8, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. AHS65

    Sure hope he launches one of those missiles...then we only have to worry about the hole in the ground where N. Korea used to be

    April 8, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. kennyzales

    This boy has cried wolf one too many times. Kim Jong Un....put up or shut up. If you don't bring your A-game NOW, you have forfeited your ability to regain our attention. We're either going to end this now or it's time to change the channel.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. calamity jane

    Dear Anonymous, we only know what information we are given. What exactly do you feel we need to go into deep thought about?. The only way we would ever be able to break from our "uninformed" position would be if the government chose to share everything their Intelligence agencies know about this and therefore, I'm not holding my breath. But I'm also not subscribing to the self-centered uninformed average american theory that you a convinced of.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. anon

    We Americans have such hubris. His "small" nuclear weapons tests have something hidden in them, they are perfect for massive EMPs. They are just about the right size in terms of explosive yield. All he, or anyone else, would have to do is get about 20 miles off the cost of the United States and launch a weapon about half way across the country and about 80 miles up... and guess what... no electricity in America for months if not years in many places. Every car, done, no pumping water (no running water), no transportation, no communications, and no food resupplying the grocery stores. Almost all estimates show that 12-18 months after an EMP event over the United States would lose about 2/3 of its population.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. boyamidumb

    CJ - I will draw your attention to a little country called Afghanistan. Still riding horses and drove out the Russians, and everyone before them that invaded, and is tossing another major power out as we speak .... that would be us or US.

    So never underestimate an enemy that is a fatal mistake.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Ken

    Beat those war drums CNN, you do it oh so well. CNN the pro war, paid for by the military industrial complex.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. MajorRumpRoaster

    Perhaps they have some crazy technology but pretend to be armed for WW 2

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. end3r

    I'm not sure CNN interpreted its own poll correctly. I recall selecting that I was concerned, but the thing doesn't really give me a more realistic option. I'm about as concerned as when my 20lb beagle mix barks at passing strangers while I'm holding on to his leash. Even if he somehow got off his leash he's more than likely just going to run up and lick the person. The "concern" I raise in both situations is extremely small. However that concern didn't exist prior to the posturing, so yes TECHNICALLY we're at an "all time high" for our level of fear towards the hermit kingdom. But let's not kid ourselves, we're not losing any sleep here.

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. GDP

    of course people have paid attention.....I am sure CNN news with all the reckless , and sensational headlines wanted that to begin with.....this is a non-story....otherwise...Please tell us what topics you select to headline that you don't want people to pay attention to !! Another example of "journalists" trying to drive the news instead of reporting it !!

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. steve

    yes NK is going to fire the missiles, just wait they will do it. They did see the weakness in American diplomacy and in our military. War is bad, right and you voted for Obama in the last 2 teams, now cities like Austin Texas is under their reach. See what you could do if you do not have someone strong leading this country. Jimmy carter created the fiasco in Iran way back in 1980s and it impact the political landscape of current middile east. Now you have Iran in one end and on the other end it is NK. it would be nice to see people like JOhn Kerry and Obama with Chuck handles this. We saw Obama handling of the embasy burning in Benghazi and now we will see many more of them in an around the world now. I do not get it why the liberals do not get it. A war now would impact the little growth we had.

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. The Truth

    Let's get this over with already. Nuke 'em all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Brian H

    Something very interesting about this poll overall (not specifically related to Korea)

    Look at the response to question 1 (Favor/disapproval of how Obama handling job overall).

    Then look at the breakdown on how he is handling things issue by issue in question 2.

    The only issue he gets greater than 50% on is gay marriage.

    How, then, does his overall approval rating end up at 51%??? Instinctive responses to an "overall" question...which response then apparently finds no support when the same people break it down issue by issue.

    The risks of non-critical thinking populous.....

    April 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. gary coleman

    After all their threats, if NK so much as fires off a test rocket our defense system should blow it out of the sky before it leaves 'their' airspace!!! We know it can be done...just saying...

    April 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. jvbiii

    "CNN Poll: Worries about North Korean threat at all time high"
    NOT True. People are interested in the subject, but not worried. Misguided report AGAIN from CNN. CNN PLEASE stop creating news. This is why aljezeera has a better reputation than CNN. Aljezeera reports the news, even from both views but they do not create news like this story is trying to do. By telling the public that everyone else is worried about a topic like North Korea, they are trying to get you worried too. A mob does that, the news should not. I'm in the US military, and I am not missing any sleep over North Korea but I enjoy reading about what they have to say each morning, just like reading the funnies in the morning. I take them both equally as serious. Don't worry our American public over foolish issues like this. Let us deal with them. It's our job. The public can worry about other issues like my bank stocks. FIX THAT!!!

    April 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Dave H

    It is safe to say they have our attention, but not our fear. This has lingered for 60 years. Many of us have family members that died for a war that never ended. NK is a dinosaur of the past. Of all the conflicts we've been in in the last 20 years, this is the one I'd actually like to see come to fruition so the entire planet can get closure and move on. Their people are just like you and me, but they've lived behind a curtain for many years. They only know what they're told. They are starving, ignorant, repressed, and misinformed. I certainly don't want to see any more wars or death, but that regime needs to go. Too bad they don't have a lot of oil. We would have probably liberated them years ago 😉

    April 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Norm

    Yes he has our attention and we're all laughing at him and his childish cry for attention.

    April 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Tom

    North Korea is only a threat because they are incredibally stupid. The rational ones you can deal with. North Korea's arrogance and stupidity to take on the U.S., tick off China, and take on the rest of the world and not care is what makes them dangerous. Can they be squashed like a bug........sure, but they don't seem to know that or care.

    April 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Nice of CNN to get inside my head and tell me what I have been thinking! But sorry CNN, in reality you are telling me how to think – even worse you are pandering to a dictator by rewarding his intransigence by speaking on behalf of the 'American people'. Your pandering is pathetic. You have become a mouthpiece of the business interests who become have become fawning when they find themselves in a climate where they can not use the middle class kids as cannon fodder for yet another war. These business interests have killed the golden goose of the middle class for quick profits by outsourcing manufacturing while that's what most of our people are good for anymore. It is the lack of country oriented policy makers and dishonest news agencies that will bring about America's decline.

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. doubledog

    Please be afraid.... this dude put Twinkies out of business

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Richard Hode

    Even if N.K. doesn't have nuclear missiles that can reach the U.S. now, at some point it will. Iit has become imperative to destroy N.K.'s war making capability before they can inflict great damage on us. At the same time we need to deal with Iran which has exactly the same goal: to build ICBMs that can reach us.

    We need to engage N.K. and Iran in a crushing bombing and missile campaign. If that means a lot of collateral damage, i.e. dead civilians, then so be it. Better dead N.K. and Iranian civilians than Americans. I say evacuate Seoul immediately and launch a preemptive attack on N.K. Why wait until they attack? We should take the initiative. At the same time we should give Israel the green light for a full-scale assault on Iran.

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Norm

    I wonder how much Rodman is paying CNN to ramp up the PR everyday.

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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