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Kim Gets His Man as Party Chairman, But Dissidents Vow They Will Fight On

Sept 10,2001
The former Blue House chief of staff, Han Kwang-ok, was approved as chairman of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party Monday, but only after a difficult struggle in the party's top ranks.

Immediately after the appointment was approved, President Kim Dae-jung's most vocal in-house opponent, Representative Kim Keun-tae, reaffirmed his vow to fight for dissolution of a "specific faction," the Donggyo-dong group of die-hard presidential loyalists, suggesting that the internal strife within the party may be far from over.

Representatives Kim Keun-tae, Chyung Dai-chul and Chung Dong-young led a move to delay approving President Kim's appointment of his trusted aide to the party leadership.

The appointment, they said, "falls short of expectations that our party would undertake an overall political renovation with a change in party leadership."

A faction of younger members of the party and those outside the Donggyo-dong group have protested the president's reliance on personal loyalists in key party and government positions to help him steer through the remaining 18 months of his term.

But their calls were turned back. "Postponing approval would weaken President Kim Dae-jung's leadership and drag down efforts to stabilize the political arena," Representatives Han Hwa-kap, Kim One-ki and Kim Ok-too said.

"Do you mean to take from the president the right of appointment?" asked another Donggyo-dong member, Representative Lee Hoon-pyung.

The debate was stopped only when a chief policymaker, Lee Hai-chan, offered to propose to President Kim a new lineup in the expected reshuffle of presidential secretaries.

In the end only 6 of 61 lawmakers voted against the president.

Having lost the battle, however, Kim Keun-tae vowed to keep fighting the war.

"The democracy movement also began with small numbers," he said. "It became a majority only after a long struggle. Democracy will ultimately win."

Members of the Donggyo-dong faction said they construed Mr. Kim's actions and words as the personal embitterment of a politician whose presidential ambitions have been thwarted.



by Lee Yang-soo




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