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Kim Dae-jung: My Mother Was a Concubine

Posted July. 30, 2010 11:37,   


“My mother lived as a concubine her whole life. Throughout my political career, I kept silent about the secrets of my birth in honor of my mother. I have come to think, however, that concealing the facts is not the proper way to honor my mother. My mother went through the worst of conditions to raise me, and I loved her more than anything.”

“The Autobiography of Kim Dae-jung” unveils the secrets surrounding the birth of the late former president, who died last year. It also covers his thoughts on former ruling Grand National Party leader Park Geun-hye, who is the daughter of Kim’s political opponent, the late President Park Chung-hee; the failed bid to field a unified opposition candidate in the 1987 presidential election; evaluation of the incumbent Lee Myung-bak administration; and Kim’s feelings over the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun.

Kim began writing the book in 2004, and based on 41 voice recordings and diary entries, the book will be released Friday, which marks the one-year anniversary of his death.

In the book, he said Park Geun-hye came to him in August 2004 and said, “I apologize for the damage and suffering you had to endure under my father’s rule,” and expressed surprise over her comment. He said he was happy because it seemed like her father had come back to life to ask for reconciliation, adding, “Though his daughter apologized, I felt as if I was being rescued.”

On the failed bid to field a unified opposition presidential candidate in 1987 in cooperation with Kim Young-sam, his longtime political ally, Kim Dae-jung wrote, “I regret not having stepped back.”

He denied that the failure was to blame for the election loss, however, saying, “There was no guarantee of winning even if we had a unified candidate. Corrupt electioneering back then could never have been prevented.”

On President Lee, he said, “He showed the same supercilious behavior he had while working at a construction company. I thought he was a practical man who would not go against global trends. I was wrong. He doesn’t understand what practical value is.”

Criticizing the incumbent chief executive`s policy toward North Korea, Kim Dae-jung said, “The possibility exists that (South) Korea could see the worst failure in its diplomatic history. A decade of hard work by previous administrations is about to fall. President Lee has no philosophy on inter-Korean relations.”

On Roh’s suicide, Kim Dae-jung said, “It was forced by the Lee Myung-bak administration. The time has come for our people to weed out a dictator who does not follow their will. We can consider introducing a dual executive system or a parliamentary cabinet system of government.”

At the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, he said North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suggested announcing a joint statement under the names of Lim Dong-won, special presidential adviser for South Korea, and Kim Yong Sun, secretary and reunification director for the North Korean Workers` Party, referring to the July 4 joint statement between Seoul and Pyongyang.

But Kim Dae-jung persuaded the North Korean leader to use the names of the two countries’ leaders in the statement.

Kim Jong Il told him, “You’re very persistent, and maybe this is because you’re from the Jeolla provinces.”

Kim Dae-jung responded by saying the North Korean leader`s surname is of the Jeonju clan of North Jeolla Province in South Korea.

Kim Jong Il then said, “You apparently want to be called a triumphant general,” to which Kim Dae-jung replied, “Why don’t you make me a triumphant general? I came all the way here, so why not do me a favor?”

On the troubled lives of his three sons Hong-il, Hong-up and Hong-gul, who were either prosecuted or went to prison due to lobbying scandals, Kim Dae-jung said, “It was unfair.”