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2 Foes in Korea Opposition Chided on Unkept Promise

October 03, 1987|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

SUWON, South Korea — Roh Tae Woo, President Chun Doo Hwan's handpicked nominee for president, chided the two leaders of the opposition Friday for failing to keep a promise to field a single candidate against him, while Cardinal Stephen Kim urged the feuding pair to uphold their pledge.

On his second provincial speaking tour, Roh, 55, told a rally of the ruling Democratic Justice Party in Suwon that "a society is healthy only when promises are kept." He promised to carry out sweeping reforms that he proposed June 29 to transform South Korea from authoritarian to democratic government, and then added:

"There are people, especially politicians, who don't keep their promises. One said he had 'emptied his mind.' Another said he would not run for president. Can we trust them? Can we entrust the fate of this country to them?" he told a crowd of 20,000 in a gymnasium.

'Emptied' of Ambition

Last year, Kim Young Sam, 58, president of the Reunification Democratic Party, publicly declared that he had "emptied his head" of ambition, while Kim Dae Jung, 63, the opposition party's adviser, declared that he would refrain from running if Chun allowed a direct presidential election to choose his successor. After 18 days of nationwide street protests induced Roh to promise the sweeping reforms, however, neither leader has been willing to yield to the other.

The inability of the two Kims to meet their self-imposed deadline of Sept. 30 to name a single opposition candidate has raised the likelihood that both of them will run, splitting the anti-government vote, and perhaps handing victory to Roh, who, like Chun, is a former general.

Both Kims had acknowledged that a single candidacy is needed to end what they call "military dictatorship" and achieve democracy.

Cardinal Kim, in his first political statement since June, urged the two leaders to agree on a single candidate to "realize democracy."

The head of the 2-million-member Roman Catholic Church in South Korea made the statement Thursday in a service commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Chonju diocese, the newspaper Joong-ang Ilbo reported Friday.

Neither leader took note of the influential cardinal's statement.

Kim Young Sam fixed Oct. 17 for the beginning of his first speaking tour to Pusan, his hometown and the nation's second-largest city. Aides announced that they hope to mobilize 1 million people for a "national rally to end military rule and promote Kim Young Sam for president" to launch a tour of eight provincial cities.

Kim Dae Jung, meanwhile, said that he will make an announcement Oct. 12 on the candidacy issue after staging rallies in two more provincial cities Oct. 10 and 11.

Assembly to Approve Charter

Oct. 12 is the day on which the National Assembly is to approve a revised constitution providing for the nation's first direct presidential election in 16 years. It is to be put before voters for final approval in a national referendum Oct. 27.

The presidential election would then be held by Dec. 20.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry announced that exports in September rebounded from a plunge in August caused by labor strife that swept the country after Roh's promises of reform. It said exports soared 29% above August and 45% above September, 1986, to total $4.5 billion.

The ministry said the total for the first nine months, $33.2 billion, represented a gain of 35% over the same period last year.

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