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South Korea

Yearbook 2002

South Korea. According to Countryaah website, the country's president Kim Dae Jung had a difficult last year in power. Both his government, his party the New Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and Kim personally saw the popularity decline in favor of the opposition Great National Party (GNP). The cause was a series of high-level corruption scandals, some of them in Kim's absolute vicinity. Two of his sons were sentenced to prison for bribery. Kim tried to curb South Korea's anger through several government reforms and in May Kim left the MDP after apologizing to the nation.

2002 South Korea

In addition, the privatization of state-owned enterprises aroused people's anger and in the spring the country was drawn with constant mass protests. The protesters threatened to sabotage the Soccer World Cup that South Korea would host in June along with Japan.

However, the tournament was a success, but the local elections that month meant a new setback for the government. GNP won 11 of the 16 most important entries. Election elections two months later gave the opposition a majority in parliament. In a first demonstration of power, Parliament chose to reject Kim's first two proposals for a new prime minister. Finally, businessman Kim Suk Soo was chosen, known for his strong integrity.

Kim's next nose came when eleven MDP MPs jumped off since they no longer believed in the party's candidate, human rights lawyer Roh Moo Hyun, in the December 19 presidential election.

Ahead of the presidential election was the battle between Roh and GNP candidate Lee Hoi Chang, who held a tougher line against North Korea. In the latter, the election seemed to be very even. On Election Day, Roh received 49% of the vote against 46.5% for Lee. Thus, the MDP was allowed to retain power and Kim's sunshine policy could continue.

Even foreign policy Kim Dae Jung had problems. Big demonstrations were held when US President George W. Bush made his first visit to the country in February. Bush had previously labeled North Korea a "shoulder of evil", which contributed to Kim's sunshine policy towards North Korea being stranded. Later in the year, however, new talks were held between South Korea and North Korea and in September the construction of a road and rail line across the "border" resumed. New family reunions were also held and countries began to clear mines in a joint project.

However, the success of the reconciliation work was preceded by a sharp setback in June when a South Korean patrol vessel sank in a collision with a North Korean military vessel at the disputed border between the Yellow Sea countries. Six South Koreans and up to 30 North Koreans were killed in the confrontation. The parties blamed each other, but a conflict ensued when North Korea apologized and South Korea vowed not to abandon the sunshine policy.

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