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Opposition in S. Korea Weighs Power Sharing

September 20, 1987|DAVID HOLLEY | Times Staff Writer

SEOUL, South Korea — The two top leaders of the main opposition party agreed Saturday to consider a power-sharing formula in which one of them would head the party and the other would become its presidential nominee.

Kim Young Sam, president of the Reunification Democratic Party, and Kim Dae Jung, who holds the title of party adviser, agreed to meet Monday to continue discussions aimed at reaching agreement on which of them should be the party's nominee in a presidential vote planned for mid-December.

The power-sharing formula was proposed several weeks ago by Kim Dae Jung's faction, but Kim Young Sam had been resisting the idea, saying that it is better for one person to head the party and be its presidential nominee.

'We Will Not Oppose It'

But on Saturday, Kim Dong Young, a Reunification Democratic Party vice president who is a top aide to Kim Young Sam, told reporters, "If the separation of party president and presidential candidate is deemed the best way to achieve victory in the elections, we will not oppose it."

Lee Choong Jae, another party vice president who is part of Kim Dae Jung's faction, said the agreement would remove "obstacles in selecting a single opposition candidate."

Agreement on the formula appeared to halt what had been a worsening trend in relations between the opposition factions. But its ultimate importance will still depend on whether one of the two Kims is willing to give up the ambition to be president.

On Thursday, a scuffle between supporters of the two sides broke out at party headquarters after Lee Yong Hee, another party vice president who is part of the Kim Dae Jung faction, criticized Kim Young Sam in a newspaper interview.

Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung, however, have repeatedly pledged that they will reach agreement on a single main opposition candidate.

Third Kim May Run

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Pil, prime minister under the late President Park Chung Hee and chief architect of the 1961 coup that put Park in power, gave a clear indication Saturday that he intends to run for president as a third-party candidate.

"I am planning to make my return to the political arena official on Sept. 28," Kim Jong Pil told a rally of about 1,000 supporters in the coastal city of Inchon.

Kim Jong Pil--who under Park was also president of the ruling party, the now-defunct Democratic Republican Party--is expected to announce steps to create a new party that would draw some of its support from the minor opposition Korea National Party.

"He will be a candidate," said one of Kim Jong Pil's supporters, who declined to be quoted by name, at the Inchon rally. "There is no doubt."

At the Sept. 28 event, the supporter said, "He will say, 'I am going to form a party, and with the consent and advice of the members of the party, I will run.' "

Would Cut Roh Vote

Although few political observers give Kim Jong Pil any chance at winning the presidency, his candidacy is seen as important because it is expected to draw much more support away from the ruling Democratic Justice Party nominee, Roh Tae Woo, than it would from the opposition nominee.

There has also been speculation that Kim Jong Pil's entry into the race could increase the chances that both Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung might run in December.

"Kim Dae Jung will be tempted to consider a dual candidacy with Kim Young Sam as it would no longer mean a certain defeat (by) Roh Tae Woo," Kim Myong Sik, political editor of the Korea Times, wrote in today's editions of the newspaper.

In his speech at the Inchon rally, Kim Jong Pil defended the authoritarian policies of Park as appropriate for South Korea at that stage of its economic and political development.

He insisted that the economic successes of the 18 years of Park's rule laid the basis for the country's current economic prosperity and movement toward democracy.

"We are now on the threshold of democratization," he said. "We owe this to the national reconstruction of the 1960s. We learned from our experience in the late 1950s that without accumulating national wealth and without laying a foundation, democracy would not work.

"No matter what people say, development of democracy in Korea today is the result of President Park's leadership in the 1960s and 1970s."

Attacks Present Regime

Kim Jong Pil also attacked the country's present military-backed government, including President Chun Doo Hwan, who took power in a 1980 coup and is scheduled to step down in February after completing a seven-year term.

"We had a chance (at democracy) in 1980, but the chance was shattered by some power-hungry military men," Kim Jong Pil said.

Roh, a former army general who helped put Chun in power, arrived back in Seoul on Saturday after a weeklong visit to the United States and Japan, in which he stressed his commitment to democracy as outlined in his dramatic June 29 announcement accepting opposition demands for a direct presidential election.

Speaking with South Korean journalists before leaving Japan, Roh expressed support for a flexible approach to achieving "cross recognition" of Seoul by China and the Soviet Union and of Pyongyang by the United States and Japan.

Roh said he would not object to the United States and Japan first recognizing North Korea, as long as China and the Soviet Union promise to take reciprocal action toward Seoul.

Need Not Be Simultaneous

"The recognition need not be made simultaneously if it is guaranteed (by China and the Soviet Union) to Seoul," Roh said, according to a report in today's edition of the Korea Herald.

The opposition Reunification Democratic Party, while supporting a strong defense against North Korea, has at the same time stressed its desire to achieve more contacts and better relations with the north, patterned after the relationship between West Germany and East Germany.

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