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South Korea

Yearbook 1998

South Korea. According to Countryaah, the newly elected President Kim Dae Jung, formerly South Korea's leading dissident, met with protests when in February, in accordance with an election pact, he appointed the right-wing Kim Jong Pil as prime minister. When he supported the military coup in 1961, the opposition party GNP (the Grand National Party), with a majority in parliament, refused to accept him. The president saw the appointment of his former enemy as important for creating stability and avoided the blockade by naming him acting prime minister. Only in August, Parliament approved Kim Jong Pil as prime minister.

1998 South Korea

The following month, the government coalition between Kim Dae Jung's party NCNP (National Congress for New Politics) and Kim Jong Pil's ULD (United Liberal Democrats) gained parliamentary majority following a series of GNP defections. It broke the political stalemate that hindered the president's attempt to reform the country's crisis-prone economy and break corruption in politics and business. Hundreds of civil servants were fired for taking bribes, thousands of others were warned. The GNP saw the campaign as a political attack on the opposition and responded with boycott.

In the labor market, corporate tightening, along with the International Monetary Fund's (IMF), led to tough borrowing requirements for mass redundancies, protests and strikes. In the summer, unemployment officially reached a record 6.7%. The real figure was believed to be even higher. The floods and landslides, which in August took hundreds of lives and caused material damage to billions, contributed to the problems.

Foreign policy President Kim Dae Jung highlighted the country's proximity to the United States by traveling to Washington in June and discussing its relaxation initiatives vis-角-vis North Korea. In November, President Bill Clinton responded, visited an American-Korean front alliance on South Korea's northern border, and stated that North Korea can never be allowed to try to acquire nuclear weapons. When Kim Dae Jung traveled to Japan in October, he received the Tokyo government's clearest apology for the occupation of Korea in 1910-45.

The insecurity towards the enemy, North Korea, consisted of both peace messengers and incidents. In June, a mini boat caught in fishing nets outside South Korea. Nine dead North Koreans were found aboard. It was uncertain whether it was on a spy mission or, as North Korea claimed, had just come off course. In November, a North Korean spy vehicle was reported to have tried to land agents in the south, and the following month such a vessel was lowered by South Korean warships in a firefight on South Korea's southern coast. North Korea dismissed all talk of espionage.

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