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S. Korea Warns 'Radicals' Against Election Violence

December 12, 1987|SAM JAMESON and NICK B. WILLIAMS Jr. | Times Staff Writers

SEOUL, South Korea — The government of President Chun Doo Hwan vowed Friday to arrest and punish "all radicals who engage in violence, regardless of their number," to ensure a fair presidential election Wednesday.

Five hours later, 87 students broke into the headquarters of the government-run Korea Broadcasting System and fought with 600 riot police before they were subdued and arrested.

Chun's Cabinet issued the warning at an emergency meeting after young people sought to break up rallies Thursday for Roh Tae Woo, the ruling party candidate, in Kunsan and Chonju.

The Cabinet said in a statement that it is "deeply concerned about the political situation." Violence of the sort that erupted in Kunsan and Chonju, it said, is "a direct challenge to the authority of the government" and "stern measures must be taken."

Police Guard Buildings

Immediately after the warning, hundreds of plainclothes policemen appeared in front of the U.S. Embassy, the telephone company headquarters and other government offices.

Nevertheless, students rushed past guards at the Korea Broadcasting System building and took over a room where a music program was being taped. They chased the producer and 150 dancers from the room.

The students barricaded the room, but the police forced their way in after throwing tear-gas grenades. The students hurled firebombs and lengths of steel pipe. Three students and four policemen were reported injured.

Hyun Hong Joo, deputy secretary general of the ruling Democratic Justice Party, told a group of reporters that the government had received reports that students would try to disrupt a Roh rally today in Seoul. He said the students plan to seize buildings and set fires and try to stop people from attending the rally. It is scheduled to take place at Yoido Plaza, which can accommodate more than a million people.

Final Weekend Rallies

Rallies this weekend by the three major candidates are expected to have an important impact on the election.

"This will be the weekend that decides the election," a Western diplomat said.

Kim Dae Jung, one of the two leading opposition candidates, announced that he was canceling all evening rallies for the rest of the campaign because of reports of an assassination plot against him.

"I received information from someone in a government intelligence agency recently that there is an assassination plot," he told a press conference. "I was advised to be careful at night rallies and also to be cautious in what I eat. So I have been careful."

Blames Provocateurs

Kim, who says the government party is planning to steal the election, blamed provocateurs for the violence at Roh's rallies.

"According to my reports," he said, "explosives (thrown at Roh's motorcade in Kunsan) were supplied by the ruling party side. . . . Government agencies were involved."

Police reported that 44 people, most of them college students, were detained because of the clashes in Kunsan and Chonju, and that 184, including 94 policemen, were injured.

Hyun, the ruling party official, said the police will provide increased protection for Roh's rally today, and for all candidates in the final days of the campaign.

Warns of 'Double Veto'

Speaking of the post-election period, Hyun told the reporters that if an opposition candidate wins he will face "a double veto"--from the right and from the left.

A president representing the opposition, he said, would lack the loyalty of the military, which would be needed to enforce martial law in the event of extreme unrest.

And because the opposition forces "owe so much to radicals," he said, they would not be able to "take any action against radicals trying to disrupt the governing process."

Hyun said he does not expect the opposition to win, or see any disturbances that would make martial law necessary. But his reference to a veto from the right seemed to be a warning of trouble in the event of a victory by Kim Dae Jung, who was convicted of sedition after Chun seized power in 1980. Two top military men warned last July of an "unhappy event" if Kim Dae Jung wins.

Sees Military Restraint

Hyun said the "military will have no role in the transition period" after the election before Chun's term ends Feb. 24 and power is transferred to the new president.

Asked if he could declare with equal assurance that the military will not intervene if Kim Dae Jung wins, Hyun said, "You'll have to ask the military." But after further questioning he said: "The military respect the wishes of the people. They will respect whatever the people think is right."

He said a poll conducted by an organization he refused to identify shows Roh ahead of Kim Young Sam, a moderate opposition candidate, by seven percentage points. He refused to quantify the lead he said the poll gives Roh over Kim Dae Jung.

He said the same organization accurately predicted the results of the 1985 National Assembly election.

Foresees Slim Margin

He conceded that Roh will fall far short of obtaining an absolute majority of the votes, and that as a result a measure of trouble can be expected after the ballots are counted.

There is considerable concern, he said, that radicals may "storm ballot-counting stations and burn votes" if it appears that Roh is winning.

Meanwhile, a last-ditch effort to get Kim Dae Jung and Kim Young Sam to agree on a single opposition candidate collapsed Friday. The move, initiated by Paek Ki Wan, a minor presidential candidate, foundered on continued disagreement over how to make the choice.

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