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The Kim Young Sam Administration

The election for the 14th presidential term was held on December 18, 1992. The three major candidates were the ruling DLP's Kim Young Sam, the opposition Democratic Party's Kim Dae-jung, and the newly founded United People's Party candidate Chung Ju-yung, founder of the Hyundai Group. Kim Young Sam was elected, winning 42 percent of the votes, outpacing Kim Dae-jung, his former opposition party colleague and fellow participant in the fight against authoritarian regimes. Chung Ju-yung did not do as well as some had expected. Kim's election returned Korea to the hands of a democratically elected civilian President for the first time since the military coup d'etat of 1961.

In his inaugural remarks on February 25, 1993, President Kim Young Sam vowed publicly to build a "New Korea," pledging to fight corruption in the public and private sectors and to revitalize Korea's straining economy. President Kim called on the Korean people to join him in building a New Korea by increasing national discipline, cooperating more extensively and bearing a fair share of the costs for improving economic prosperity. He urged Koreans to recapture their evaporating industriousness, to stop the erosion of their values and regain their self-confidence.

One of President Kim's initial measures after taking office was to open the streets around Chong Wa Dae, the presidential office and residence complex, to ordinary citizens. Under the previous authoritarian governments, citizens had been barred access to the areas surrounding Chong Wa Dae for security reasons.

In his first few months in office, President Kim was more active in his fight against corruption than anyone could have ever imagined, unleashing a veritable whirlwind of reform. His cabinet almost immediately published a "100-Day Plan for the New Economy," a series of short-term measures designed to boost the economy; this was later followed by the announcement of a New Five-Year Plan for the New Economy, a set of long-term economy policies. The President also announced the implementation of the real-name financial transaction system in August 1993, a major economic reform designed to eliminate corruption and irregularities in the economy.

Asserting that "no one should strive for power and money at the same time," President Kim also required the submission of financial statements by all major government, political and military figures, most of which were made public. Several of the initially appointed cabinet members were forced to resign when the public became aware of their past improprieties. A number of DLP assemblymen resigned or bolted from the party for similar reasons, and the prosecution moved to indict others. The opposition DP, after releasing its own round of public financial statements, also lost face when it could not agree on how to proceed against several of its own assemblymen caught in the same snare. A common refrain emerged in the press - "There's no stopping Y.S." - as the press had nicknamed the new President, after his English initials.

President Kim expected his reform campaign against corruption to continue throughout his five-year term, and at that point, no one doubted him. His anti-corruption efforts extended to not only the administration and party, but also to the military, universities, banks and even traffic police. Some of these sectors were known as sanctuaries in past regimes.

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Information provided by the Korean Embassy

 


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