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1,500 Rally, March in Seoul to Press Bid for Electoral Reform

March 12, 1986|From Times Wire Services

SEOUL, South Korea — Politicians and dissidents, some denouncing the South Korean government as a military dictatorship, held one of the largest rallies in recent years Tuesday to demand direct presidential elections and democratic reform.

The Seoul rally and march by about 1,500 people were led by Lee Min Woo, president of the opposition New Korea Democratic Party, and prominent dissident Kim Young Sam.

Police put Kim Dae Jung, South Korea's other well-known dissident leader, under house arrest again a few hours before the rally and lifted the restriction when it was over.

Lee and Kim Young Sam led the marchers more than half a mile from the site of an indoor rally to the opposition party's headquarters. Speakers, signboards and slogans at the indoor rally denounced the government of President Chun Doo Hwan as a military dictatorship. They called for democratic reforms and changes in the constitution.

The opposition's main goal is to abolish the electoral-college method of choosing the president, which it says gives an unfair advantage to the regime in power.

Chun has said he will not consider constitutional change until 1988, the year his term expires and South Korea is to be host for the Summer Olympics.

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