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Kim Dae Jung Takes Campaign Back on Road : Speaks to Taejon Crowd as S. Korea Ruling Party Nominee Heads for U.S.

September 13, 1987|DAVID HOLLEY | Times Staff Writer

TAEJON, South Korea — Opposition leader Kim Dae Jung took his undeclared presidential campaign on the road again Saturday, while Roh Tae Woo, the ruling party's nominee, prepared to take his campaign to Washington today.

Kim delivered a 40-minute speech to a late afternoon welcoming crowd of about 50,000 that filled the plaza in front of the train station at Taejon, which is about 90 miles south of Seoul. Then he rode down the main street of town in an open truck as masses of supporters chanted "Run! Run! Run!"

The scene was a replay, on a smaller scale, of a tumultuous welcome given him last week on a visit to Kwangju.

Earlier Saturday, in Seoul, Hyun Hong Choo, a National Assembly member who will travel with the ruling Democratic Justice Party's Roh to the United States, spoke with foreign reporters about why Roh is visiting Washington--and on his way home, Tokyo.

The main reason for the trip is "to appear before the press in the United States and Japan" and show that he is willing to answer "hard questions," Hyun said.

"By doing so, he is committing himself to the (democratic) process. I think that is very important."

Roh, 54, a former general, helped President Chun Doo Hwan come to power in a 1980 coup. But in a dramatic June 29 announcement, he accepted opposition demands for a direct presidential election and other democratic reforms. A presidential election is now scheduled for mid-December.

Either Kim Dae Jung, 63, or Kim Young Sam, 58, president of the Reunification Democratic Party, is expected to be the opposition nominee. The two Kims have agreed that only one of them should run for president, but have not agreed which one.

Condemns Dictatorship

While Roh goes to Washington to present himself as a key person helping to bring democracy to South Korea, Kim Dae Jung, who has endured years of imprisonment, exile and house arrest for his opposition activities, presented himself in Taejon as the voice of reconciliation.

"I hate dictatorship," Kim declared in his station plaza speech. "But I do not hate the dictators. No political retaliation is needed. That would only create another wrong. Achieving genuine democracy is enough."

"Many say the military are not supporting democratization. But I am sure there are groups in the military that are supporting it strongly. You should not simply condemn the military, but instead cheer them for joining the democratic process."

Kim said that if the opposition comes to power, "not only must political revenge be out of the question, but the jobs of government employees below the deputy minister level must be guaranteed."

Reassures Military, Business

"Even those in the military who have been participating in politics, if they change their stance and go back to protecting the country, their future must also be guaranteed," he added.

Kim, who is seen as a populist leader, also sought to reassure the business community.

"We are not antagonistic against owners of corporations," he said. "We highly value their role, along with the workers, in building this country."

At the briefing in Seoul, Hyun outlined the thrust of the message Roh will take to the National Press Club and to meetings he expects to have with President Reagan, Secretary of State George P. Shultz and congressional leaders.

Roh will stress that "there will be an election," that he "has committed himself to the process" and that democracy is necessary "to provide lasting security," Hyun said.

"And he will say he has the capability (to lead the country) because he knows how to handle the military and he also can handle domestic politics, as shown by his June 29 announcement."

Support for Elections Needed

Hyun added that he believes there is now "a shared interest" between politicians of the Democratic Justice Party and opposition Reunification Democratic Party in getting as many military and government leaders as possible on record in support of democratic elections.

It is not just opposition figures who worry that the military might decide to intervene in the political process, Hyun said.

"People even within our own camp have some doubts about that, some suspicions," Hyun said.

But Roh, he added, "does not show any sign that he is worrying about military intervention."

Hyun also said that despite Kim Dae Jung's recently proven ability to draw huge crowds on pre-election tours, government officials were not really incorrect when, in recent years, they referred to him as a politician whose time was long past.

"He has been a 'has been,' " Hyun insisted. "But now he is establishing himself as an active politician."

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