Kim Dae Jung Says He’s Anti-Communist
Opposition presidential candidate Kim Dae Jung, in a nationally televised campaign speech Thursday, directly confronted the fears of some South Koreans that he may have leftist beliefs.
Kim, a longtime critic of successive military governments, defended himself as a firm advocate of democracy who endorses a more effective anti-Communist strategy than that pursued by this nation’s right-wing rulers.
Kim Young Sam, the other major opposition nominee in the Dec. 16 presidential election, also delivered a televised address, in which he declared that the nation “is at the crossroads of choosing between democracy and military dictatorship, between justice and evil.”
The trend of events, he said, favors the opposition, because “it has become a historic mission and common sense to end military rule and realize democracy.”
Kim Dae Jung, 63, said that “it is an awkward matter to need to make excuses about oneself,” but said he wanted to “clear up some of the misunderstandings that people have.” He charged that for more than two decades, military governments have spread lies about him, including false allegations that he is pro-Communist.
He acknowledged that for a brief period when he was in his early 20s, he was a member of a political party “that later became a leftist organization.”
“However, disillusioned about leftist thinking, and at the advice of my father-in-law, who was a right-wing party official, I left the organization,” he said.
During the early months of the 1950-1953 Korean War, Kim said, he was taken prisoner by the Communist North Korean army, but about two months later, as the northern army retreated, he was among a group of about 80 prisoners who escaped.
The nominee of the Party for Peace and Democracy, Kim Dae Jung charged that the rigid anti-communism of the current military-backed government is counterproductive.
“Despite its purpose, it is producing more Communists,” he said.
West German Example
“I have a decisive anti-Communist philosophy,” he declared.
Kim Young Sam, 59, generally perceived as more moderate than Kim Dae Jung, nevertheless made a bitter attack in his speech against Roh Tae Woo, nominee of the ruling Democratic Justice Party.
Roh, a former general who helped President Chun Doo Hwan take power in a 1980 coup, recently was the target of rocks and sticks thrown by an angry crowd in the city of Kwangju, where in May, 1980, an uprising against Chun’s arrest of opposition leaders and imposition of martial law was crushed by troops. At least 193 people were killed, by official count.
Kim Young Sam, nominee of the Reunification Democratic Party, seemed to defend or at least excuse the campaign-trail attacks, in which Roh was unhurt but 10 other people were injured.
Successive military governments have described the struggles against them as “chaos and social disturbance,” he said. “If you discover a thief, and yell ‘Thief!’ is that chaos? Is it chaos to throw a few stones at the dictator who murdered people with rifles and bayonets?”
Kim Dae Jung, in his speech, acknowledged that voters have “some concern” about his three-step proposal for the ultimate reunification of Korea, which is now divided into the capitalist south and Communist north.
“Of course, all these three steps would not be realized during my tenure,” he explained. “Maybe the first two steps--peaceful coexistence and peaceful exchange--would be achieved during the five years (of a presidential term).”
The third step--reunification under some formula to be negotiated after implementation of the first two steps--could then be achieved by the next government, he said.
“I am glad to note that recently the ruling party has also come up with a reunification policy similar to mine,” he added.