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Kim Young-sam, Former President of South Korea, Dies at 87


Kim Young-sam waving during a parade on Feb. 25, 1993, in Seoul, following being sworn in as South Korea’s 14th president. Credit Yonhap/European Pressphoto Agency

SEOUL, South Korea â?? Kim Young-sam, the former president of South Korea who replaced the final of the countryâ??s military leaders, purged politicized generals and introduced a landmark reform aimed at transparency in monetary transactions, died on Sunday. He was 87.

Mr. Kim, who was president from 1993 to 1998, died of septicemia and heart failure, said Oh Byung-hee, the chief of Seoul National University Hospital, exactly where Mr. Kim was admitted with a fever on Friday. He had been treated for a series of strokes and pneumonia in current years.

Mr. Kim, an outspoken critic of military dictators from the 1960s via the 1980s, was a single of the â??three Kimsâ? â?? the other individuals had been former President Kim Dae-jung and former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil â?? who played main roles, typically relying on regional assistance from their property provinces, for the duration of South Koreaâ??s turbulent transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Mr. Kim was born in 1927, a son of a rich anchovy fisherman on Geoje Island, off the southeast coast of South Korea, throughout a time when all of the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony. He was elected to Parliament at age 26 and created a following as an opposition leader famed for his daring criticism of Park Chung-hee, who seized energy in a coup in 1961 and tortured and imprisoned dissidents ahead of his assassination in 1979.


Kim Young-sam dragged off by plainclothes policemen in Seoul in 1986. Mr. Kim was an outspoken critic of military dictators from the 1960s via the 1980s. Credit Heesoon Yim/Agence France-Presse â?? Getty Images

Mr. Park had Mr. Kim expelled from Parliament for criticizing his dictatorship throughout an interview with The New York Times in 1979. Mr. Kimâ??s colleagues resigned from Parliament in protest, and large antigovernment demonstrations broke out in Mr. Kimâ??s political property ground in the southeast. Mr. Park was assassinated by his spy chief later that year.

Mr. Kimâ??s travails continued when Mr. Park was replaced by Chun Doo-hwan, an army major general who engineered a coup to fill the power vacuum left by his patronâ??s death. Mr. Kim was barred from politics and place below residence arrest. He when staged a 23-day hunger strike.

â??Dawn will come even if the rooster is strangled,â? he once said, a saying that became a catchphrase for Koreansâ?? yearning for democracy.

Mr. Kim was as nicely known for a lifetime rivalry with Kim Dae-jung, a fellow opposition leader from the southwest Jeolla area. They both ran for president in 1987 in South Koreaâ??s 1st democratic election and split the opposition vote, allowing Mr. Chunâ??s handpicked successor, Roh Tae-woo, one more former army basic, to win.

In 1990, Mr. Kim merged his celebration with Mr. Rohâ??s military-backed governing celebration in a move broadly condemned as a betrayal of pro-democracy forces. The merger was a political marriage of convenience: Mr. Roh wanted a parliamentary majority, and Mr. Kim, who distrusted Kim Dae-jung as much as he detested the military dictators, believed that he would by no means win the presidency as long as the other Mr. Kim competed with him for the opposition vote.

When in the governing party, whose leading hierarchy included several former generals, Mr. Kim and his followers, vastly outnumbered by rival factions but all seasoned veterans in celebration politics, quickly expanded their ranks and dominated the celebration.

Mr. Kim beat Kim Dae-jung in the 1992 election to turn out to be the 1st civilian leader in South Korea in more than 3 decades.

Despite the fact that he won the election with the help of the military-backed party, Mr. Kim did not overlook his roots. He purged a clique of politically ambitious army officers who went by the name Hanahoe, which roughly meant â??an association of one-for-all, all-for-one particular.â? Bound by their regional prejudices and sponsored by the military dictators, the members of the group have been so strong they blackmailed â?? and even beat up â?? members of Parliament. The officers have been forced to retire.

Mr. Kimâ??s military purge culminated in the arrest and conviction of Mr. Chun and Mr. Roh on mutiny and corruption charges for their roles in the 1979 coup and a bloody crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising in the following year, as properly as for collecting hundreds of millions of dollars every single in bribes from businessmen. (Mr. Kim later pardoned them and released them from prison.)

Mr. Kim also barred South Koreans from owning bank accounts beneath pseudonyms. That alter is regarded as one of the most essential landmarks in South Koreaâ??s lengthy-operating campaign against corruption bank accounts under borrowed names had been broadly used by politicians and businessmen to hide slush funds.

But Mr. Kimâ??s time in office was also marked by missed opportunities.

In his memoir, Mr. Kim mentioned he persuaded President Bill Clinton to cancel the United Statesâ?? strategy to bomb North Koreaâ??s nuclear facilities in 1994 for fear of war.

â??Looking back,â? Mr. Kim stated in an interview in 2009, â??I feel the North Koreans believe they can say what ever they want since no matter what they do, the Americans will by no means attack them.â?

The 1994 nuclear crisis was defused when former President Jimmy Carter met with the North Korean leader at the time, Kim Il-sung, in Pyongyang, the Northâ??s capital, and brokered what would have been the initial summit meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas. But Kim Il-sung died of heart failure in July 1994, two weeks before the meeting was scheduled to take location. â?Fate played a trick on me,â? Mr. Kim stated. â??If I had met Kim Il-sung, I would have changed the nationâ??s history.â?

The achievement that had eluded him â?? becoming the very first South Korean leader to hold a summit meeting with the North â?? went to his rival and successor, Kim Dae-jung. In 2000, Kim Dae-jung flew to Pyongyang and met with Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sungâ??s son and successor. That year, Kim Dae-jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

By the time Kim Young-sam ended his five-year term in early 1998, he was a sad, disgraced lame duck.

In 1997, South Koreaâ??s proud economy swallowed the humiliation of a $ 58 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund in the course of the Asian monetary crisis. Mr. Kim was criticized for failing to avert the crisis by overhauling the countryâ??s potent loved ones-run conglomerates, which had expanded on reckless borrowing and with cozy ties to the government.

With thousands of people losing their jobs, Mr. Kim stopped jogging in the early morning, a every day routine that he had never missed till then.

Mr. Kimâ??s reputation was further tarnished with the arrest of a son on corruption charges. His governing party was so unpopular that South Koreans have been prepared to hand more than energy to the opposition for the very first time, as they did with the election of Kim Dae-jung in late 1997.