President Chun Doo Hwan agreed today to meet with opposition leaders on Wednesday in an attempt to end two weeks of anti-government violence, but radical students vowed continued protest whatever the result.
Only a few demonstrations were reported today. Relative calm appeared to reign for the first time since the opposition began a campaign June 10 to oust the former general and force democratic elections.
Chun declared an end to debate on political reform in April and had refused to talk with his opponents, but announced a change of mind today and offered to meet at the Blue House presidential residence with Kim Young Sam and others.
Kim Softens Position
Kim leads the Reunification Democratic Party, the main political opposition. He also appeared to take a softer position, agreeing to meet Chun without the condition that all political detainees be released.
Kim said he will insist on major political reforms, particularly direct presidential elections to replace the existing electoral college system that favors the government.
About 20,000 radical students met at Yonsei University today and decided to go ahead with a march Friday in Seoul.
A resolution approved at the rally said the students will march on the Blue House and warned against resort to martial law or other strong measures.
Students Won't Comply
The National Coalition for a Democratic Constitution, a new opposition alliance that launched the June 10 protests, has called for nationwide "peace marches" in Seoul and other cities Friday but said they might cancel them if the Chun-Kim meeting produced results. The students said they would not comply.
Students paraded around the campus chanting "Down with the military dictatorship!" and punched clenched fists into the air. Effigies of Chun and Roh Tae Woo, his old ally and designated successor, were wrapped in American flags and burned.
When he announced an end to discussion of reform until after the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Chun also said the electoral college would choose the man to succeed him in February.
He then picked fellow ex-general Roh as the ruling Democratic Justice Party candidate and protests began June 10 to coincide with the party convention that endorsed Roh's candidacy.
In his first public comment on the unrest, Chun said stability must be restored and "all problems should be solved through dialogue within the framework of law and order."