Presidential nominee Kim Young Sam, seeking to establish himself as the leading opposition candidate in the Dec. 16 election, attended a massive rally here Saturday, during which a former minor-party candidate threw her support to him.
Kim failed, however, to draw a measurably larger crowd than that attracted to the same huge plaza last Sunday by his opposition rival, Kim Dae Jung. The site can hold an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million people.
Many South Koreans believe that the divided opposition has opened a strong possibility that Roh Tae Woo, the ruling Democratic Justice Party's nominee, might win the presidency with only about one-third of the vote.
Suicide Underscores Demand
Many opposition supporters want the two Kims to agree that just one of them should continue contesting the election, as each pledged but failed to do in September. A young man took his own life Saturday to underscore that demand.
The man, apparently in his 20s, commandeered a bus carrying about 45 Kim Young Sam supporters to the Seoul rally. The youth forced the passengers off the bus and drove it to a plaza about 500 yards away, where he shouted for Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung to agree on a single candidate. He then doused himself with an inflammable fluid and set himself afire inside the bus, witnesses said.
Meanwhile, supporters of Kim Young Sam, the nominee of the Reunification Democratic Party, were hoping that an endorsement that their candidate received from Hong Sook Ja, the Social Democratic Party's nominee and the only woman in the race, would help start a bandwagon effect for him.
Putting Aside Differences
"The foremost task we are facing now is to terminate the military dictatorship," Hong declared at Kim Young Sam's rally. "To that end I decided to support the leading candidate, disregarding my ideological differences with him."
Big rallies also were held Saturday by Roh and Kim Dae Jung, as well as Kim Jong Pil, a former prime minister who is expected to place a distant fourth in the race. Roh drew a crowd estimated at 500,000 in Kim Young Sam's home base of Pusan. Kim Dae Jung attracted an estimated 700,000 at Kwangju, his home base. And Kim Jong Pil, a conservative, drew an estimated 300,000 people to a rally in Taejon.
No violence was reported at any of the three Kims' rallies, but small bands of protesters in Pusan hurled rocks at Roh and scattered tear-gas powder.