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Park's Ex-Premier to Seek S. Korea Presidency

September 29, 1987|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong Pil, who was prime minister under the late President Park Chung Hee, said Monday that he will be a candidate for president in December and warned that any attempt to rig the election would precipitate an "uncontrollable upheaval."

Kim, 61, a former army officer who was prime minister from 1971 to 1975, indicated that he will make a formal announcement of his candidacy next month.

Appearing before a crowd of cheering supporters, he said he plans to organize a new political party that will embrace the ideals of Park's old party, now disbanded, and hold a convention by the end of October.

A Kim Jong Pil candidacy could be expected to attract votes mainly from Roh Tae Woo, 55, leader of the ruling Democratic Justice Party and the handpicked candidate of President Chun Doo Hwan.

Kim warned three times Monday that Roh's party might commit "illegal and immoral acts to stay in power."

"What happens after the presidential election," he said, "depends on conducting a free, fair, peaceful and just election. Without a fair election, nothing, including the 1988 Olympics, will progress smoothly."

He said that failure to carry out a fair election would spur "a great upheaval, an uncontrollable upheaval," and that "the explosion of indignation and anger by the people would be so great that no one could survive."

He lashed out at President Chun for taking power in a coup in May, 1980. The coup, he said, resulted in South Korea "wasting seven years undergoing unnecessary hardships and turmoil."

He said that Chun's coup and his purge of the three likely presidential candidates in 1980, including himself, had deprived South Korea of an opportunity to embrace democracy. Also, he said, it deprived South Koreans of a legitimate government.

"You cannot have legitimacy unless you are chosen by the people," he said.

Criticizes Censorship

Kim also criticized the Chun government for preventing publication of the October issues of two prominent magazines, a decision that was reversed Monday by the Ministry of Culture and Information.

The reversal came after journalists, civic organizations, the political opposition and even the ruling Democratic Justice Party, at Roh's bidding, protested. They demanded that the government permit the mass media to judge whether publication of two controversial interviews with Lee Hu Rak, former director of the Korean CIA, would indeed be harmful to the national interest.

Lee indicated in the interviews that the Korean CIA, under his direction in 1973, abducted opposition leader Kim Dae Jung in Tokyo and brought him forcefully to Seoul in violation of Japan's sovereignty.

The newspaper Dong-A Ilbo printed a half-page summary of Lee's comments Monday and said it has started printing the October issue of its magazine, Shin Dong-A, with the full account of the interview. The Monthly Chosun said that its October issue has also gone to press.

"The era in which the state should guide the press has ended," Kim Jong Pil said.

Kim said accusations made by Chun and his followers in 1980 that he had amassed an illicit fortune of $35 million during the Park era were concocted in order "to justify the existence of their regime."

"At no time," he said, "did I misuse political power to accumulate personal wealth. Whatever wealth I had, had already been returned to society."

Kim Jong Pil and Roh, in a contest for the presidency, would create a measure of irony. In an election aimed at bringing democracy to South Korea, Kim, who masterminded the 1961 military coup that brought Park to power, would be aligned against the principal supporter of the 1980 military takeover.

Political analysts give Kim virtually no chance of winning, but ruling party officials have said privately that he could receive as many as 2 million votes, or about 8% of the total. There are 25.6 million eligible voters, and about 80% of them are expected to vote.

"Kim's candidacy could be fatal to Roh," an official of the Democratic Justice Party said, asking not to be identified by name.

Other analysts noted that Kim Jong Pil's backers share the liberal opposition's hatred of President Chun and the ruling party. As a result, his candidacy is expected to deny the liberal opposition candidate some protest votes. Roh, however, stands to suffer most, they said.

Liberals Fail to Agree

The two leaders of the liberal opposition, Kim Dae Jung, 63, and Kim Young Sam, 58, met today but failed again to carry out a Sept. 21 promise to decide by the end of the month which of them will be the flag-bearer of the Reunification Democratic Party.

In statement, the two leaders promised to "continue our discussions." However, Kim Young Sam told The Times that the two have not set a date for another get-together.

Kim Jong Pil announced his comeback to about 3,000 cheering supporters who overflowed a hotel reception room into a lobby area.

He made few apologies for the Park era and pledged to devote himself "to lay the foundation for democracy."

Asked by a Korean reporter if he thinks the people will accept him "despite the many wrongdoings" of the Park era, Kim said he is "prepared to be chastised by the people."

But he said he believes that "someday the people will give us credit for what we did."

Kim, who is married to a niece of the late President Park, founded both the Korean CIA (now known as the Agency for National Security Planning) and the former ruling party, the Democratic Republican Party.

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