North Korea Crisis

Gallup International Association snap poll in 14 countries across the globe

20 September – 1 October 2017

Significant fear that nuclear warheads will be used but little desire for military response

A poll out today from Gallup International reveals that 43% of people surveyed believe that it is likely that North Korea will move forward and use a nuclear weapon, 46% believing they will not. The poll, representing the opinions of more than 1 billion of the world 's population (Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, UK, USA and Vietnam) reveals on average that one in ten think it ‘very likely’. Countries where concern is greatest include Pakistan (51%), Germany (48%), Australia (49%), Austria (48%) and the UK and US (both 46%). Interestingly Japan (45%) is significantly more worried than Pyongyang’s neighbor South Korea (35%). The least worried are in Russia (23%) and Bulgaria (36%).

In the country that is under the greatest direct risk - South Korea - the overall ratio between likely and unlikely is 1:2 in favor of unlikely.

Despite some tense rhetoric in recent weeks our survey reveals that a peaceful diplomatic solution of the North Korea crisis is overwhelmingly preferred over a military solution - on average over 3/4 of those polled favored giving diplomacy more time. A diplomatic solution is almost the unanimous preference for Russians (96%) while Pakistan and Japan both reveal an even split – 51% favouring diplomacy, 49% military. And neighboring South Korea – well one in three (34%) prefer the military option, 66% diplomacy

Key Findings

Kancho Stoychev, President of the Gallup International Association:

“This snap poll done across the world in only 10 days reflects the opinion of over one billion people and covers the two superpowers US and Russia , the two potentially the most affected countries - South Korea and Japan as well as the two EU heavy weights Germany and France. It's shows the extent to which people are worried about the nuclear activities of North Korea. Despite these fears, a clear majority prefer a diplomatic and peaceful resolution of the crisis. In Japan public opinion is split between peaceful and non-peaceful approaches which is fully understandable because, together with South Korea, Japan carries the highest risk; the logic being that it is better to solve the problem once and forever.”

Johnny Heald, Research Director at Gallup International Association:

“Despite significant proportions in a majority of those countries surveyed believing that Kim Jong-Un will actually use a nuclear weapon, the majority of people still want to see a diplomatic rather than military response. A military response to a leader with nuclear warheads who has previously launched intercontinental ballistic missiles is possibly considered to be too risky for many of those surveyed. Yet despite having had rockets flown over their territory it is the Japanese that appear to want a tougher response with 49% favouring a military response”.


A total of 17,107 persons were interviewed across 14 countries around the globe. In each country a nationally representative sample of adult men and women was interviewed either via telephone (4 countries; n=3,988), online (8 countries; n=9,822), via sms survey (1 country, n=1,797) and f2f (1 country, n=1,500). The fieldwork took place between 20th September and 1st October 2017, the data was weighted accordingly for each country.