Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger arrived here Tuesday and described South Korea as “pivotal to the peace and stability” of this part of the world.
Weinberger came for talks with South Korean officials on security questions as authorities here took steps to restrict planned anti-government rallies of the sort that have been held the past two Sundays.
In a statement issued at the airport, Weinberger said the security talks, which have taken place every year for most of the past two decades, are “extremely important.”
“The security of South Korea is pivotal to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia,” he said, “and that in turn is vital to the security of the United States.”
Meanwhile, South Korean officials told the opposition New Korea Democratic Party that it may not use loudspeakers on the streets of Taegu, where the party has scheduled a rally Saturday as a follow-up to its rallies Sunday at Kwangju and a week earlier at Pusan.
Amplifiers for Crowds
According to a spokesman for the national police, the opposition party has used amplifiers to work up crowds outside the buildings where party rallies were taking place.
Sunday’s rally at Kwangju, which attracted about 60,000 people, was followed by a violent street demonstration. Large numbers of people surged through the streets, interrupting traffic and shouting “Down with the dictatorship!” Police said that 30 policemen were injured.
A senior official who asked not to be identified by name said Tuesday: “It has been a constant policy of the government not to permit such large rallies. Mass demonstrations have a tendency to turn into riots in our country.”
Still, the authorities have recently adopted a policy of taking no action unless there is violence.
The opposition has been organizing rallies to build support for its effort to collect 10 million signatures on petitions asking that the constitution be changed to permit direct election of the president. Chun Doo Hwan, a former general who came to power in 1980, was elected president in 1981 by an electoral college. The opposition contends that the electoral-college method favors the ruling party.
69 Were Arrested
The police said that 69 people were arrested in the Kwangju disturbance Sunday. They were said to have thrown stones at riot policemen and to have set fire to a sign in an area known as Democracy Park. The area is in front of the provincial capital building taken over by anti-government forces in 1980 during the 10-day uprising in Kwangju that was put down by troops with the loss of 191 lives.
The senior official stopped short of calling Sunday’s disorder a riot. But he emphasized that it was unlawful, because those who took part in it shouted anti-government slogans.
“That is prohibited by law in South Korea,” he said.
The official said loudspeakers were a factor in the Kwangju incident. He accused opposition leader Kim Dae Jung of inciting the crowd by saying he is “prepared to die for democracy.”
Kim was prevented by police from attending Sunday’s rally but sent a tape-recorded message that was relayed to the crowd over a public address system.
Not long after Chun came to power, Kim was sentenced to death for sedition, but the sentence was commuted to 20 years in prison and later suspended. He has been under intermittent house arrest in Seoul since his return from the United States more than a year ago.
In a separate development, the government warned academics to refrain from taking part in political activities. Last Friday, 28 professors at Koryo University issued a manifesto supporting the opposition plan to revise the constitution so as to permit direct presidential elections.