Funeral committee for Kim announced

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Funeral committee for Kim announced

Democracy advocates who fought against authoritarian rule in the 1980s will unite again this week to organize the state funeral of their onetime leader, former President Kim Young-sam.

Kim, the first civilian to win the presidency in direct elections following military rule, died Sunday at the age of 87. The Ministry of Interior announced Tuesday that an organizing committee to plan the state funeral was created with 2,222 members. The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday on the front lawn of the National Assembly.

According to the ministry, 1,414 people recommended by the family of Kim and 808 people recommended by the government will make up the committee. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-an will be chairman.

The people recommended by the Kims include some 300 founding members of the Council for the Promotion of Democracy, established in 1984 to fight the authoritarian rule of Chun Doo Hwan. Kim jointly created the group with his political ally and rival, the late President Kim Dae-jung.

The council disbanded in 1987 after the two Kims failed to agree on which of them should run for the presidency representing the liberal vote. Kim Dae-jung and his associates left to create their own political party.

“This funeral will be an arena of unity and reconciliation of all democratization forces,” former lawmaker Kim Deog-ryong, a member of the council and a key aide to Kim Young-sam, told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday. “This will be a way to uphold his last wish.”

Kim’s last message to the country was “unity and reconciliation.”

Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung were known as the “Two Kims” and they dominated modern day Korean politics and the democracy movement. They were collaborators in their fight against military dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s, but soon became rivals due to their presidential ambitions. Kim Young-sam was president from 1993 to 1998 and Kim Dae-jung from 1998 to 2003.

During their rivalry, they both led political factions. Kim Young-sam’s group was known as the Sangdo-dong faction and Kim Dae-jung’s associates were called the Donggyo-dong faction after the locations of the two politicians’ residences.

According to sources, some members of the Sangdo-dong faction initially protested that the funeral committee will include the Donggyo-dong faction. They said the Sangdo-dong faction was excluded when the funeral committee was created in 2009 for Kim Dae-jung’s death.

Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung, however, insisted Sunday that the Donggyo-dong faction be invited to uphold the late President Kim Young-sam’s last wish. Kim Moo-sung first entered politics in 1983 by joining the Sangdo-dong faction and also participated in the Council for the Promotion of Democracy. He calls himself a “political son” of Kim Young-sam.

After some discussions, the Sangdo-dong faction agreed that the Donggyo-dong faction would be invited and the Council for the Promotion of Democracy should play a central role in the funeral. An invitation was delivered to Kwon Roh-kap, a senior member of the Donggyo-dong faction.

The government also proposed that former generals-turned-presidents Chun and Roh Tae-woo would serve on the funeral organizing committee, and Kim Moo-sung accepted it. The two former presidents served on the funeral committee for Kim Dae-jung in 2009.

Chun and Roh will serve as advisors. According to the Interior Ministry, the 101 advisors also include former President Lee Myung-bak and UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

The committee will also have six deputy chairmen including former lawmaker Kim Bong-jo.

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