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Paper Faces Prosecution Threat if It Publishes Results : Poll Shows Roh Trailing 2 Foes in Seoul

November 24, 1987|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

SEOUL, South Korea — An undisclosed poll conducted by a major Seoul daily newspaper found that both of the liberal opposition critics of the authoritarian government of President Chun Doo Hwan have taken a lead in the capital over Roh Tae Woo, Chun's hand-picked nominee for the Dec. 16 presidential election.

Results of the poll were obtained by The Times on the condition that the Seoul newspaper not be named.

The survey was conducted Nov. 14, five days after a former army chief of staff stunned the political world by joining the party of opposition figure Kim Young Sam. The army chief had been ousted by Roh and five other generals, including Chun, in a 1979 mutiny.

Although a new presidential election law nominally removed a ban on conducting polls, the law retains a threat of prosecution for publishing the results, on the grounds that they might influence voting.

The poll showed Kim Young Sam, president of the Reunification Democratic Party, leading the four major candidates with support from 27.6% of Seoul's voters. Kim Dae Jung, his former ally who broke away to form the Party for Peace and Democracy, was close behind with 25.7%, while Roh polled only 21.2% support.

Kim Jong Pil, a strongman of the 1961-79 era of the late President Park Chung Hee, received the backing of only 4.5% in the capital.

Those who were uncommitted or refused to answer totaled 21.1%.

Although the poll was taken only in Seoul and thus did not represent nationwide trends, 10,585,241 voters, or 41.4% of the nationwide total, live in the capital city and its environs. Voters in the metropolitan area are expected to cast the deciding ballots in the election, whose prelude has been marred by regional antagonisms splitting much of the rest of the country.

The results were particularly surprising because the telephone poll, involving 500 households, excluded the 21% of the urban population that has no telephone--a low-income group strongly in favor of Kim Dae Jung. If that sector had been included, Roh's showing probably would have been worse, the newspaper editor in charge of the poll told The Times.

He said the newspaper does not intend to publish the results because of possible prosecution under the election law.

In the only major nationwide poll that has been published, the Monthly Chosun magazine said in the edition which went on sale Monday that a Gallup (Korea) Poll gave Roh the lead with 30.8% support, followed by Kim Dae Jung with 16.4%, Kim Young Sam with 14.7% and Kim Jong Pil with 8.3%. The remainder of 30% was divided between "can't say" and "no response."

A Gallup spokesman confirmed the magazine's report but said the poll was conducted more than a month ago, in mid-October, raising the possibility that it is outdated.

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