Park stresses solidarity at Kim Dae-jung event

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Park stresses solidarity at Kim Dae-jung event

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Park Geun-hye, left, presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, talks with independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, right, yesterday at a memorial event hosted by the Kim Dae-jung Foundation to discuss the late president’s philosophy at the National Assembly. [YONHAP]


On the 40th anniversary of her father’s constitutional amendment to extend his rule almost indefinitely, Park Geun-hye, presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party, attended a memorial event of an icon of democratization, the late President Kim Dae-jung, in pursuit of reconciliation.

Park, a daughter of the late strongman Park Chung Hee, yesterday attended an event hosted by the Kim Dae-jung Foundation to talk about Kim’s philosophy.

A rival of Park’s father during his authoritarian rule, Kim is a political icon of the country’s democratization and a leader of the Jeolla region.

After declaring “grand national unity” as a key to her presidential campaign, Park has tried to seek reconciliation with her father’s rivals.

Han Gwang-ok, who served as the presidential chief of staff in the Kim Blue House, was recruited to join her campaign, and more Kim loyalists also followed suit.

Accompanied by Han, Park gave a speech at the event and promised to end the perennial confrontation between the Jeolla and Gyeongsang regions.

Reminding the public about her meeting with Kim in 2004, Park said Kim told her that reconciliation between the country’s east and west is crucial and there won’t be success without it.

“Kim told me to succeed in this,” Park said. “He advised me to devote myself to this, and the time came for me to repay him.”

Her remarks came on the 40th anniversary of her father’s constitutional amendment to extend his rule almost indefinitely.

The self-coup of Park Chung Hee, who seized power through a military coup in 1961, is often referred to as the Yushin program.

Park has made efforts to shed historical baggage linked to her father. Last month, she admitted for the first time that her father’s dictatorial rule violated the Constitution at a live press conference and apologized to the victims.

Her liberal rivals yesterday used the Yushin anniversary to attack Park.

Ahn Cheol-soo, an independent candidate, also attended the memorial event for the late President Kim yesterday and gave a speech to promote his presidential ambition.

“In the 1997 election, the people chose Kim because they wanted a change,” Ahn said. “I want to see it again this year.” Ahn’s campaign also addressed the anniversary of Yushin to contrast his image against the conservative rival Park.

The campaign of Moon Jae-in, candidate of the liberal opposition Democratic United Party, also issued a statement to use the Yushin anniversary to attack Park. “The military dictatorship was just changed to a civilian dictatorship,” said Jin Sung-joon, Moon’s spokesman.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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