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Kim Dae Jung Greeted by Rocks on Rival's Turf

November 02, 1987|NICK B. WILLIAMS Jr. | Times Staff Writer

PUSAN, South Korea — Presidential candidate Kim Dae Jung crossed the line of South Korea's regional politics Sunday and found himself besieged by angry, rock-throwing opponents.

After an afternoon rally in Pusan, Kim was hosting his supporters at a banquet in his hotel when several hundred supporters of his opposition rival, Kim Young Sam, gathered in the street outside, according to witnesses. They demanded that he withdraw from the race, leaving Kim Young Sam, a native of this southern port city, as the major opposition choice.

The protesters' rocks broke windows on the first and second floors of the hotel, stopping one level short of the floor on which the banquet was being held. Government-controlled KBS television reported that at least four members of Kim Dae Jung's staff were hurt in the clash.

Riot police were summoned to separate the rival camps, and their presence and heavy rains decreased the protesters to 50 or fewer by late evening.

At his earlier rally, during which he attracted a good crowd on his rival's turf, Kim was nearly hit by a sand-filled bottle thrown from the crowd. Late in his nearly hourlong speech, the bottle arced onto the elevated speaker's stand from the crowd below.

According to press reports, it was apparently thrown by a 26-year-old Pusan businessman. He was beaten by Kim Dae Jung's supporters, then taken into custody by the candidate's security men.

Relations Strained

Many political observers had predicted such incidents when the 63-year-old opposition leader brought his campaign here. Relations between the two Kims have been strained by personal ambitions and factional differences.

The Kims had been off-and-on allies in the struggle against South Korea's military-dominated governments. But their constituencies are based in rival regions, and the contest for the first direct Korean presidential vote in 16 years has heightened the strains.

Pusan, power base of the 59-year-old Kim Young Sam, is the major city of North and South Kyongsang provinces and Kim Dae Jung is the favorite son of North and South Cholla provinces, in the southwest. Antipathies run deep between the two regions.

Last week, in what Kim Young Sam called a tragedy for the opposition, his rival quit their fragile political alliance, the Reunification Democratic Party, and said he will form his own party to compete in the December presidential vote.

Kim Young Sam had declared his candidacy on Oct. 10, and the rivals' failure to agree on a single opposition candidate has sharply bolstered the chances of Roh Tae Woo, the ruling party nominee.

On Sunday, the elder Kim concentrated his fire on Roh and President Chun Doo Hwan in his campaign speech, mentioning his opposition rival only a few times. He said, for instance, that only he and Kim Young Sam are politically qualified to run for the presidency.

However, as he tried to soft-pedal the opposition split, there were indications of bitterness in Pusan. Many of the candidate's rally posters, pasted around this city of 3.5 million in the past few days, had been shredded or disfigured by the time he arrived.

Recalls 1971 Election

Kim reminded the crowd, which appeared to be about one-fifth the size of the turnout his rival drew two weeks ago on the same site, that Pusan gave him 44% of its vote in 1971, when he was the losing opposition candidate in a presidential contest with the late Park Chung Hee.

He called for support in Pusan again, extolling the city as "the Mecca of democracy." He urged the voters to give him their ballots if they do not prefer Kim Young Sam or if they are undecided.

Roh is also from the Kyongsang provinces, reared in Taegu, but most political analysts label Pusan an opposition city.

Roh took his campaign to the Cholla provinces last month and was attacked with eggs and tear gas by anti-government protesters.

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