Posted November. 23, 2005 08:11,
Around June 2001, the first anniversary of the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000, former President Kim Dae-jung urged North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to deliver what he promised fives times in a month alone or as many as ten times by the year-end. The promise was the North Korean leaders return visit to Seoul.
Why was the former president so obsessed with Kims return visit to Seoul?
As it was recently testified that the Kim Dae-jung administration conducted wiretapping as well as tax audit of media outlets in early 2001 with the intention of creating atmosphere conducive to making the North Korean leaders Seoul visit possible, some say that there might have been some hidden political subplot.
So far, experts generally explained that the former president was preoccupied with Kim Jong Ils return visit to solidify the ground for settling peace on the Korean peninsula and, as a result, to become a president remembered in history.
In particular, former President Kim was very keen on becoming a president remembered in history. He said in a remark he released in September 2001 in commemoration of the Armed Forces Day, There has been three attempts of unification in our history. Two of them, the unification by Shilla and Goryeo dynasties, were successful, but the third one, the Korean War, was not. All three were attempts of unification by force, but the fourth one should be peaceful.
At that time, the opposition criticized the remark, saying, It is wrong to call a unification war the Korean War which North Korea waged on the back of foreign forces, including the Soviet Union. But the remark indicates that the former president saw himself a main player of a third unification attempt.
Around the inter-Korean summit in June 2000, political circles openly said that then President Kim was dreaming of becoming a unification president and being at office for a long time.
In October 2000, Grand National Party spokesman Kwon Chul-hyun said in a commentary, We want the president to clear the concern that his winning the Nobel Peace Prize could be used for political purpose, such as attempts to remain in office for a long time and make himself a unification president.
In response, the Kim administration dismissed the remark as nothing more than groundless libel. However, there was an atmosphere within the administration that the presidents winning of the Nobel Peace Prize and the North Korean leaders return visit should precede the presidents achievement of institutionalizing peace on the Korean peninsula confirmed at home and abroad.
In relation to that, as it was recently revealed that the previous government was focused on creating an atmosphere conducive to Kim Jong Ils return visit even by going so far as to conduct tax audit and wiretapping of media outlets, some offer a fresh argument, saying, The former president was preoccupied with the North Korean leaders return visit probably because of some political purpose.
A politician said, Considering that he could become a unification president only when the Constitution is revised, former President Kim might have considered prolonging his term through a revision of the Constitution or helping his following be in power for a long time.
The politician added, Previous presidents, including Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, attempted to revise the constitution, such as adoption of parliamentary cabinet system, either to actually prolong their grip of power or create some safety valve. I think former President Kim was no exception.
Some point out that Kim at that time also desperately needed the North Korean leaders return visit to get out of his hardships in domestic politics, including corruption scandals involving his close associates.