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Kim Dae Jung Declares Main Opposition Party Will Have 2 Candidates

October 11, 1987|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

SEOUL, South Korea — Opposition leader Kim Dae Jung virtually assured that the opposition will be divided in South Korea's coming presidential election by declaring Saturday that "there will be two candidates from the Reunification Democratic Party"--his, apparently, in addition to that of party leader Kim Young Sam.

In a coincidental development holding ominous potential for trouble during the presidential campaign, National Police Headquarters announced that it will "request" university authorities and students to refrain from holding political rallies on campuses. That move was seen as primarily aimed at keeping Kim Dae Jung, who has a strong following among students, from campaigning on campuses.

Kim Dae Jung's remarks Saturday came in the wake of an "unexpected" announcement by Kim Young Sam, president of the Reunification Democratic Party, that he will run against Roh Tae Woo, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Justice Party, in an election planned to be held by Dec. 20.

Kim Dae Jung, 63, an adviser to the Reunification Democratic Party, said he will announce his own intentions "two or three days" after the National Assembly on Monday approves a new constitution for submission to a national referendum. He left little doubt that his announcement will be his formal declaration to run for president, his second try for the office.

Won 46% of Vote in 1971

In 1971, the last time a free and open presidential election was held here, Kim Dae Jung won 46% of the vote as the opposition's candidate against the late President Park Chung Hee.

"It seems after all there will be two candidates from the Reunification Democratic Party," Kim Dae Jung said after Kim Young Sam, 59, made public in a morning news conference his intention to campaign for the presidency.

"I am surprised at his sudden and daring announcement, but I think he is fully capable of being a candidate," Kim Dae Jung said of his rival. "He is a man of achievement and a leader of high capability."

Secretary General Chung Sok Mo of the ruling Democratic Justice Party speculated that one of the two opposition candidates might later drop his challenge to Roh, 55, handpicked by President Chun Doo Hwan to run as his successor.

"But whoever backs out now will not be considered by the people as having made a sacrifice for democracy," Chung said. "Rather, he will be seen as having been forced out."

The looming confrontation between the two Kims, long expected in spite of the repeated vows of each that they would agree on just one of them to run for president, is widely seen as handing Roh, a former army general who supported Chun's coup in May, 1980, an immense boost in his race for the presidency. It also is expected to reduce the effect of a campaign by another conservative, Kim Jong Pil, on Roh's chances. Kim Jong Pil, 61, was a strongman during Park's 18-year rule.

A survey conducted secretly in September by Gallup Poll-Korea for the ruling party showed Roh ahead in a four-way race but trailing by 15% the combined support for the two liberal opposition hopefuls. The poll found 38% of those surveyed supporting Roh, compared to 28% for Kim Dae Jung, 25% for Kim Young Sam and 8% for Kim Jong Pil, a ruling party executive said.

Both of the liberal opposition Kims have said they will "end military rule and achieve democracy" by defeating Roh. But now, Chung remarked Saturday, "the people can see that they have been making the claim only to justify their ambitions to run."

Meanwhile, the National Police, announcing their plan to ask for an end to campus political rallies, cited a rally at Yonsei University on Oct. 3 and plans by students in Pusan to hold a major campus rally in the nation's second-largest city next Friday as "harmful to campus and social stability."

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