Some Americans may rest easier on news that North Korea and U.S. negotiators struck a deal to provide food aid in exchange for halting its uranium enrichment program, a key facet of its nuclear weapons operation. But many Americans may be skeptical: North Korea is deeply unpopular, widely seen as a threat to national security and not very trustworthy.
More than eight in ten Americans expressed unfavorable views of North Korea in a February Gallup poll, including 54 percent who held strongly unfavorable views. A similar 49 percent called the nation an outright "enemy" in a 2011 CNN/ORC poll -- tying Iran. That's about double or more the number who called any other country in the survey an enemy (including Syria, Pakistan, and China).
Americans' worries over North Korea even outpace concern among foreign policy experts. Nearly seven in 10 Americans said that the Kim Jong Il regime posed a "major threat" to national security in a 2009 Pew Research Center poll, much higher than the proportion of Council of Foreign Relations members who said this in a parallel survey.
And more than seven in 10 Americans in a 2009 CNN poll believed North Korea was capable of launching a missile that could hit the United States. If they attempted such a feat, the poll found the public almost unanimously supporting military retaliation. Pyongyang still had a ways to go before being able to launch a nuclear warhead across the Pacific, and has said that it will stop long-range missile launches under the new agreement.
Aside from hypothetical situations, Americans have signaled little appetite for a military invasion. Even after Pyongyang announced it had built nuclear weapons for self defense, 78 percent of Americans in a 2005 Washington Post-ABC News poll opposed a military invasion. A similar percentage opposed bombing military targets to force the nation to part with their weapons. The public split on whether to offer financial incentives, such as aid money or trade, to encourage North Korea to halt its nuclear program.