Even in death, Kim reconcilesKim Dae-jung, the Republic of Korea’s 15th president, was buried at Seoul National Cemetery on Sunday. During the six days of mourning, people from near and far visited the memorial altars set up across the country to show their respect for the late president.
The ruling and opposing parties paused their political feuding. There were no violent demonstrations from civic and labor groups. The former presidents and the incumbent president sat throughout the funeral ceremony under the scorching heat. The presence of prominent foreign delegates at the funeral as well as the coverage by foreign press once again proved that Kim was a Korean who was loved and well-respected by the people of the world. Delegates from North Korea also showed their respect for the late president.
The passing of Kim left an atmosphere of reconciliation and continuity.
Park Young-sook, a political comrade of Kim, said in a eulogy that the late president left a valuable legacy of forgiveness and reconciliation, as Kim has forgiven all of the tyrants who tried to crush democracy and oppress him. Reconciliation should not just end in words. Constructive reconciliation should take place between the supporters of industrialization and those who support democracy; between followers of Kim Dae-jung and supporters of the late president’s political rival Kim Young-sam, and between the Lee Myung-bak administration and its opponents.
Reconciliation, however, does not mean the complete absence of competition. Opposing groups should compete in methodology and policy. However there should not be competition over emotional or political tactics or due to excessive regionalism.
Kim Dae-jung is buried next to the first Korean president, Syngman Rhee, and Park Chung Hee.
Park Chung Hee’s economic development was possible because of Syngman Rhee’s establishment of Korea and his fight against communism. Kim Dae-jung’s democracy and inter-Korean reconciliation were possible because of Park’s economic growth, the peaceful transfer of power by Chun Doo Hwan, the “Northern policy” of Roh Tae-woo and the reforms of Kim Young-sam that sharply reduced corruption.
Of course, because of the work Kim Dae-jung did during his presidency the late president Roh Moo-hyun was able to carry out his own reforms and the current president Lee Myung-bak is able to push forward in turning Korea into an advanced country. During his life, Kim Dae-jung was the voice of democracy. Even in death, he brings forth reconciliation. We pray for his eternal, peaceful rest.