[FOUNTAIN]Willy Brandt and Kim Dae-jung

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[FOUNTAIN]Willy Brandt and Kim Dae-jung

Last Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of the death of Willy Brandt, the former chancellor of West Germany. Though things have changed dramatically in 10 years, the love and respect Germans have for Mr. Brandt has not subsided. On the anniversary, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder joined a crowd of Germans at his grave to lay a commemorative wreath.

Reviewing the high points of Mr. Brandt's life, I was reminded again how comparable his life was in many ways to President Kim Dae-jung's.

First, both of them fought against dictatorships. During the Nazi regime, Mr. Brandt fled to Norway and fought the Nazis from there, while Mr. Kim lived in exile in the United States, fighting the Korean military dictatorship.

They were both the first left-wing post-war leaders to come into power in their countries. Although labeling Mr. Kim a leftist may seem controversial, he would have been classified as a moderate social democrat in Europe. The fact that they both attempted to promote reconciliation with the other half of a divided country is also a similarity. The sunshine policy is similar to Mr. Brandt's Ostpolitik in many ways.

They both were the first to meet the leader of the other half of the divided country, and both won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

Other commonalities are their talent for public speaking and somewhat rocky marital lives; Mr. Kim was married twice and Mr. Brandt three times. They also had three sons each.

But there are many differences as well in their careers.

Mr. Brandt voluntarily resigned in 1974 when one of his chiefs of staff, Gunther Guillaume, was found to be a Soviet spy. His assistance to East Germany was not one-sided, as opposed to Mr. Kim's help to the North. For example, West Germany provided financial assistance in return for the deportation of political prisoners to the West from East Germany. Mr. Brandt discussed that support with the public and with opposition parties. Above all, Mr. Brandt was not tarred by crimes committed by his sons and relatives.

The two men's assessments by the public are very different. Mr. Brandt was respected even by his opponents. After he resigned as chancellor, he devoted himself to global economic equality. In a poll conducted in Germany early this year, he was named the most highly regarded politician, surpassing even Konrad Adenauer, the first post-war chancellor.

The writer is the Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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