South Korean Politicians Advocate for Unity at Centenary of Late Ex-President Kim Dae-jung’s Birth

GOYANG, South Korea: Prominent political figures from rival parties convened on Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of former President Kim Dae-jung, advocating for unity and tolerance in a society currently divided by political polarization. The event, which comes just ahead of the April general elections, was marked by calls for societal harmony.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the commemoration took place at the KINTEX exhibition center in Goyang, northwest of Seoul. The ceremony honored former President Kim Dae-jung, who led South Korea from 1998 to 2003. This event holds significance as the nation faces growing social division over political polarization, further highlighted by the recent stabbing attack on Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP). Lee was absent from the event due to post-surgery treatment.

National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, co-chair of the event, delivered a speech emphasizing the current state of politics characterized by confrontation, antagonism, and division. He suggested that former President Kim would have prioritized national unity in these times. Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also co-chairing the event, echoed similar sentiments, pointing out that politics has partly instigated distrust and hatred. He stressed the importance of national unity and solidarity in overcoming crises.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, speaking at the event, expressed President Yoon Suk Yeol's respect and remembrance of Kim's legacy, committing his government to an era of trust and integration. Justice Minister-turned-interim leader of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), Han Dong-hoon, recalled South Korea's experience of harmony and empathy under Kim's leadership, particularly during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. He pledged that the PPP would work towards betterment in both the Honam and Yeongnam regions, historically liberal and conservative strongholds, respectively.

Lee Jae-myung, represented by Rep. Ko Min-jung of the DP, emphasized in a speech the importance of democracy, people's livelihoods, and peace on the Korean Peninsula – all key focuses of former President Kim. He urged for the protection of these values, stressing unity as a means to achieve them.

The event also saw the attendance of former President Moon Jae-in and former first lady Kim Jung-sook, further underscoring its significance in the context of South Korean politics.

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