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Seoul Could Lose '88 Games, Roh Warns : If Opposition Wins, 'Olympics Would Be Washed Away,' He Says

November 19, 1987|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

CHUNCHON, South Korea — Roh Tae Woo, the ruling party nominee for president, warned a crowd of 30,000 people here that South Korea will lose the right to stage the 1988 Olympics if an opposition candidate wins the Dec. 16 election.

In what had been billed in advance as one of Roh's biggest rallies, the 55-year-old ex-general, speaking through a steady rain, declared that the election gives the people a choice "between the chaos of 1980," when his major rivals sought power, "or an advance to peace and prosperity in the 21st Century."

If an opposition leader is elected, "the country would be washed away," he added. "The Olympics would be washed away."

Officials of the ruling Democratic Justice Party had predicted that Roh would draw a crowd of more than 100,000 here in Chunchon, the capital of northeast Kangwon province and a traditional conservative stronghold. But a parade Roh staged shortly before rain started falling attracted only handfuls of passers-by. His procession was filled with people holding aloft party-provided posters--many showing Roh with President Reagan. Their shouts of "Roh Tae Woo! Roh Tae Woo! Roh Tae Woo!" died out even before the cheerleaders' calls ended.

Roh met Reagan during a trip to the United States in September.

Several participants Wednesday said they had been paid between 5,000 won ($6.25) and 10,000 won ($12.50). Hundreds of buses that transported many of the ralliers to the site lined a highway outside a stadium, in which the rally originally had been scheduled. Instead, it was held in a stadium parking lot.

Rain fell just as Roh arrived at the rally site and forced cancellation of three introductory speeches and a post-rally parade.

'Era of Common Man'

Roh, not using an umbrella, divided his remarks between an attempt to distance himself from his friend and former military colleague, the authoritarian President Chun Doo Hwan, and biting criticism of his opposition party opponents, Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung.

He declared that he was willing to admit mistakes the Chun government had made in the last seven years, naming as examples a financial scandal involving the uncle of Chun's wife and the death of a student by police torture.

Roh pledged to wipe out "the legacy of authoritarian government" and introduce an "era of the common man" in a country that has been ruled by military-installed governments for all but 10 months of the last 26 years.

In one of his strongest attacks on the opposition to date, he declared that a victory by either Kim Young Sam or Kim Dae Jung will "make disorder and confusion inevitable because they are supported by forces which reject a liberal democratic system."

Roh accused the two Kims of stirring up "conflicts, arguments and mistrust . . . opposing for the sake of opposition every government project." Then he warned that if either of the Kims is elected, South Korea will lose the Olympics.

Concerns that political chaos would force cancellation of the Seoul Summer Olympics, to be held Sept. 17-Oct. 2, 1988--a period that promises to bring Korea into the first favorable international spotlight in 5,000 years of history--were a major factor in Roh's decision last June 29 to promise sweeping democratic reforms to halt 18 days of nationwide street protests. Renewed political strife could raise the threat of cancellation again.

Despite his acknowledgment that the Chun government had made "mistakes," Roh said nothing about his role in a December, 1979, mutiny in which Chun gained control of the armed forces, setting up a power base that he used to seize control of the government six months later.

Kim Young Sam, who raised the issue Nov. 9 when he announced that former Gen. Chung Seung Hwa, deposed as army chief of staff in the military uprising, had joined his Reunification Democratic Party as adviser, brought it up again in his rallies Wednesday.

Branding Roh the "ringleader" of the mutiny, Kim charged that Roh, then commander of an infantry division, had pulled troops off the front line and sent them to Seoul, "endangering national security" against Communist North Korea "only to satisfy his desire to take political power."

Kim himself offered an apology in a news conference for urging voters in his native Kyongsang region during a weekend rally to "shame the people of Kwangju" by treating his opposition rival with dignity when he staged rallies in the Kyongsang area.

Kim Young Sam was forced to abort a rally in Kwangju, a Kim Dae Jung stronghold, when people in the crowd shouting support for the Cholla native drowned out his own supporters and threw eggs, rocks and placards at the speaker's stand.

"I meant to say, 'Shame those people in Kwangju who caused the trouble,' not all Kwangju people. But in haste, I omitted some adjectives," Kim said.

Kim Dae Jung, meanwhile, declared that if he is elected, his government "will regain the command of the (625,000-man) Korean armed forces from U.S. control."

Kim also advocated rejecting American demands for liberalization of agricultural markets.

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