By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's favorability among Americans has reached an all-time high this year, partly helped by the growing popularity of K-pop music and other cultural content here, as well as the country's handling of the new coronavirus outbreak, a U.S. survey showed Monday.
Those surveyed gave South Korea's favorability a mean score of 60 on a 0-100 scale, according to the outcome of the poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a global, nonpartisan think tank.
North Korea, on the other hand, received a mean favorability score of 19, the lowest of any country included in the latest survey, it noted.
"Over the past year, South Korea has experienced an unprecedented boom in awareness of its cultural products and global influence. Its musical acts have regularly featured in the Billboard charts and sold out arenas around the United States," the council said of the outcome of its survey, partly funded by the Korea Foundation.
"And South Korea's handling of COVID-19 has won plaudits from the international community, laying out a playbook for other countries in how to deal with outbreaks," it added in a press release.
Forty-seven percent of all respondents said South Korea's handling of the pandemic has either been very or somewhat effective, compared with 37 percent for both the United States and China, according to the survey.
The Council said the highest score for South Korea's favorability came despite what it called U.S. President Donald Trump's "repeated threats and bullying tactics" on defense and trade issues with Seoul.
Seoul and Washington are currently deadlocked in negotiations to set South Korea's share of the cost in keeping some 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea.
South Korea has offered to increase its burden-sharing by 13 percent from the US$870 million it paid under last year's agreement, but the U.S. is said to be asking for a 50 percent hike to $1.3 billion. Trump is reported to have initially demanded $5 billion per year from South Korea.
"South Korea, in particular, has been singled out by Trump for failing to pay its fair share for its defense and for being an unfair trading partner," the council said.
"Despite these attacks on South Korea from the American president, three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) continue to say that the United States and South Korea are mostly partners, up from 65 percent when the question was first asked in 2012," it added.
A record high of 68 percent of respondents also said South Korea practices fair trade with the United States.
A majority of Americans, 58 percent, also favor using U.S. troops to defend South Korea in case of a North Korean invasion, the survey showed.
Few Americans, however, have faith in their country's denuclearization talks with North Korea, with only 14 percent saying they are either very confident or somewhat confident that the talks will lead to North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.
Still, Americans in favor of using force against the communist state also dipped to all-time lows, according to the survey.
Only 29 percent said they support airstrikes against the North's nuclear production facilities, while 24 percent supported sending U.S. troops to destroy such facilities in the communist state, it showed.
The latest survey was conducted between July 2 and 19, involving 2,111 people aged 18 years or older in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.