WASHINGTON, :Most North Koreans think reunification with South Korea is necessary, with many of them citing shared ethnicity as the main reason, according to a recent U.S. study.

Beyond Parallel, a project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, interviewed 36 North Koreans living in the communist state during an undefined period after 2016.

It found that 34 of the respondents, or 94 percent, thought unification was necessary because the two Koreas share a common ethnicity (44.1 percent), it would increase economic growth (29.4 percent) and resolve the issue of families separated in the 1950-53 Korean War (14.7 percent).

The interviewees were 20 men and 16 women between the ages of 28 and 80. They lived in eight different provinces and worked as laborers, doctors, company presidents, homemakers, factory workers, barbers, cooks and sauna workers.

More than half, or 58 percent, said unification will happen in their lifetimes. Those under 50 were more likely to think so (71 percent) than their older counterparts (47 percent).

The study drew a contrast with a 2017 survey conducted by the Korea Institute for National Unification, which found that 57.8 percent of South Koreans said unification was necessary, down from 62.1 percent in 2016 and 69.3 percent in 2014.

The study was co-authored by Victor Cha, senior adviser and Korea Chair at CSIS, and Marie DuMond, associate director and associate fellow with the office of the Korea Chair. Cha was all but appointed to be the first U.S. ambassador to Seoul under President Donald Trump, but was recently withdrawn from consideration amid reports about policy differences with the administration.

Source: Yonhap News Agency