If You Can Locate North Korea On A Map, You Are More Likely To Come To This Conclusion

Knowledge is power.

Can you locate North Korea on a map? If the answer is yes, you're likely in favor of diplomatic and nonmilitary strategies in dealing with the volatile world power as opposed to some form of direct military engagement.

A new study lead by Kyle Dropp of Morning Consult and commissioned by the New York Times surveyed 1,746 American adults from April 27 to 29. The study found that those who could correctly locate North Korea on an unlabeled map were more inclined to support sanctions and putting increased pressure on China to negotiate with its neighbor than sending in ground troops or simply leaving the increasingly powerful nation alone.

As the NYT puts it, "The largest difference between the groups was the simplest: Those who could find North Korea were much more likely to disagree with the proposition that the United States should do nothing about North Korea." 


The results of this experiment were revealed just one day after North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, prompting the White House to call for "all nations" to administer stronger sanctions. Sunday's launch marked the fifth such test in recent months.

According to The Washington Post, the anti-militaristic approach is also one favored by newly-elected South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, who was elected following the swift impeachment of the conservative leader Park Geun-hye.

"I will endeavor to address the security crisis promptly," Moon said at the National Assembly in Seoul. "If needed, I will immediately fly to Washington. I will also visit Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang under the right circumstances."

Moon's comments echo earlier statements made by President Trump, who has also stated he'd be open to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Unlike his two predecessors, Moon wishes to resume engagement with North Korea instead of isolating it. He's hired aides familiar with the country and has even expressed interest in reviving the South Korean "sunshine policy" by which the neighboring powers would peacefully co-exist, even sharing resources and tourist sites.

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Still, North Korea's recent missile launches may mean that Moon will face an uphill battle in getting his own country (and the rest of the world) to take a more tempered approach in addressing the tense situation with one of the world's most powerful totalitarian regimes.

The divide among Americans surveyed regarding North Korea is partially due to partisan politics (Republican men were more likely to locate North Korea than their Democratic counterparts and were also partial to diplomatic solutions) but also speaks to the larger issue of world knowledge and education. Those with postgraduate degrees had the most success in locating North Korea.

Generally speaking, knowledge of other countries and cultures leads to more complex and open thought processes, and a lack of knowledge means people are without a developed lens through which to analyze and understand the world. "The paucity of geographical knowledge means there is no check on misleading public representations about international matters," Alec Murphy, a professor of geography at the University of Oregon, tells the Times.

However, even a little knowledge and exposure is enough to sway opinions. For example, a 2016 study published by the journal Science found that door-to-door political canvassers can soften the attitudes of some voters who are resistant to transgender rights by prompting them to reflect on their own experiences of being treated differently.

Perhaps this is evidence that it'd be worth investing our education systems — instead of slashing their budgets.  


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