Safety of nuclear power plants became a primary concern after the Fukushima accident. Public perception and attitude towards nuclear power has been considered an important factor that can influence the future development of nuclear energy. However, there are few empirical researches studying those issues. To explore those issues, this paper uses data collected from sets of interviews with college students in South Korea. The findings indicate that, among different views, there is one relatively ‘popular’ view about nuclear energy: useful and dangerous. The Fukushima accident increased people’s suspicions about the safety of nuclear energy and influenced people’s emotions and behaviours towards nuclear power plants. Furthermore, the findings suggest that nationalism and pragmatic culture, and regional context must be considered in order to understand people’s attitude and behaviours. Implications of the research findings and suggestions for further research are also discussed.
Keywords: nuclear energy, nuclear power plants, safety, public perception, public attitude, Fukushima accident, young generation, national culture