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Korean History - Main Page

The Kim Dae-jung Administration

With the inauguration of Kim Dae-jung to fill the 15th presidential term on February 25, 1998, the era of the Government of the People dawned- an era in which all the People can participate as the master of the nation. In his inaugural speech, President Kim, urging the nation to overcome the national crisis and make a new leap forward, said it was the day when the first democratic transition of power had been realized. He called his Administration "the Government of the People," and declared that he intended to push democratization and a free market economy in parallel.

President Kim said his Administration would overcome the economic crisis through reform, undertake a spiritual revolution valuing the rights of the individual, pursue educational reform, and liquidate the Cold-War style confrontational relationship with the North. He enunciated his intention to realize participatory democracy in which all people would take part and control politics. Facing the greatest national crisis since the Korean War, President Kim said the nation was being asked to shed sweat and tears once again and to overcome the crisis without fail and as soon as possible through reform and by sharing pain.

The December 18, 1997 presidential election was deeply significant in that it signaled the first transition of power from the ruling to an opposition party in 50 years. It was a kind of election revolution achieved through the ardent wishes of the Korean people who eagerly anticipated the dawning of a new age. News media around the world described the inauguration as the day genuine democracy began in Korea and said President Kim was a world-class leader who could lead his nation out of crisis and rebuild it.

From the day after his election, President Kim began to work vigorously to help the nation overcome the economic crisis. He formed the Tripartite Committee of representatives from labor, management and the Government and restructured the Government reducing the number of civil servants. In this way, the Government took the lead in national efforts to share pain. He also urged foreigners to invest in Korea and is now pushing economic reform including restructuring of corporations in order for them to strengthen their competitiveness. The people are hoping that democracy will develop in parallel with a free market economy. They also hope that they will realize a society where upright and able men and women can succeed and grand national reconciliation be achieved by wiping out regionalism and discrimination. In short, they hope that the Koreans can become a leading people on the world stage and a reliable partner in the international community.

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Information provided by the Korean Embassy


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