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Chronology for Honamese in South Korea

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Honamese in South Korea, 2004, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
1950 - 1953 During the Korean War, YoungNam was the only region that was not invaded by the North Korean communist army. South Korea's capital was temporarily moved from Seoul to Pusan (the capital of South Kyongsang). After the War, massive foreign aid, generated primarily by the United Nations and the United States, was concentrated in the YoungNam region.
1961 - 1979 Under the regime of Chung Hee Park (a YoungNamese), a policy of development was pursued in YoungNam regions: Pusan, Taegu, (the capital of North KyongSang), Pohang, Kumi, Ulsan, Masan, and Changwon. In the course of rapid urbanization and industrialization, following the Korean War, many HoNamese (predominantly farmers) migrated to Seoul or to the YoungNam region becoming cheap laborers in the industrial factories. This migration led to a population decrease in HoNam and an increase of YoungNam's population.
May 15, 1967 Park gained 5,688,000 votes (51.4 percent of the total votes) while Bo Sun Yoon (President 1960-62) received 4,526,000 (40.9 percent). Park won a landslide victory in Pusan (in South Kyongsang).
Apr 27, 1971 President Chung Hee Park was re-elected for a third term in office in the presidential elections. According to the Central Election Committee, Park gained 6,342,828 (51.08 percent) while Dae Jung Kim (a HoNamese), the candidate for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) won 5,395,000 votes (43.45 percent). Kim obtained more votes in Seoul. This election was condemned by the opposition and many intellectuals as fraudulent. It was widely believed among Koreans that throughout this presidential election the regional schism between Young-HoNam became sharper.
Oct 17, 1972 President Park proclaimed martial law throughout the country, dissolved the National Assembly and banned all activities of political parties. Park announced that he was taking this move (called October Yushin system) in order to pave the way for a peaceful reunification.
Aug 1973 Dae Jung Kim was kidnapped from Japan by Korean CIA agents.
May 1980 The "Kwangju SaTae," an uprising in Kwangju, the capital of Cholla Nam Do (South Cholla), occurred after General Doo Whan Chun (a YoungNamese) managed to hold power through a military coup (This uprising was called Kwangju revolution particularly by HoNamese and Kwangju rebellion by Chun's government). According to HoNamese and student (or labor) demonstrators, an estimated 2,000 people were killed by the government's brutal suppression, despite the government's claims of 200 dead, including the government's security forces. The Kwangju SaTae was not a regional conflict, but was the worst incident of anti-government demonstrations in Korea's history of democratization. Since 1948, four presidents have come from YoungNam, but none from HoNam and only one opposition presidential contender (Dae Jung Kim who challenged the presidency three times and failed) came from HoNam. Comparatively underdeveloped HoNam has served as the anti-government stronghold in post-independence South Korean politics. As such, HoNamese opposition against Chun's military coup in 1980 was more intense than in any other region. Thus, it was not surprising that Kwangju was the focal point of demonstrations.
Nov 3, 1980 Dae Jung Kim is sentenced to death for his alleged role in provoking the May 1980 Kwangju uprising.
Jan 23, 1981 The death sentence for Dae Jung Kim is commuted to life imprisonment.
Dec 23, 1982 Dae Jung Kim arrived in the United States after being released from jail for medical reasons.
Feb 1985 Dae Jung Kim returned to Seoul from self-exile in the United States. He held the co-chairmanship (with Young Sam Kim) of the Consultative Committee for the Promotion of Democracy (CCPD). The New Korea Democratic Party (NKDP) surfaced as the main opposition party in the National Assembly election. Dae Jung Kim was unanimously appointed to be a permanent adviser to the NKDP during the NKDP convention.
Aug 5, 1985 Government authorities warned Dae Jung Kim that he would break the law if he accepted the appointment (he returned from the US under the condition of not participating in the activities of a political party). Young Sam Kim refused to accept a political position until Dae Jung Kim is able to undertake political activities (but he finally joined the NKDP and accepted his position as a party adviser on January 8, 1986).
May 23 - 26, 1986 73 college students occupied the United States Information Service (USIA) library in Seoul between May 23 and 26 to protest against US support for President Chun's regime. The US allegedly supported Chun's brutal suppression of the 1980 Kwangju uprising.
Jul 31, 1986 Dae Jung Kim was placed temporarily under house arrest the day before a national convention of the NKDP.
Oct 19, 1986 Dae Jung Kim was placed under arrest for one day to deter him from attending a news conference and discussing allegations of the government's torture of dissidents. He was again placed under house-arrest for two days on November 8-9 to prevent him from attending a dissident meeting on torture.
Mar 30, 1987 More than 50,000 people staged an anti-government demonstration in Kwangju, the largest since the 1980 uprising. Several thousand riot police employed tear gas to halt the protesters from attacking provincial government buildings. There have been increasing numbers of anti-government protests (often violent) throughout the country.
Apr 30, 1987 President Chun announced his willingness to amend the Constitution before his term ended and urged the opposition to stop its anti-government demonstrations.
Jan 22, 1990 Two of the three main opposition parties, led by Young Sam Kim (a YoungNamese) and Jong Pil Kim (from Choongchung province, a nephew-in-law of the former President Chung Hee Park) respectively, have merged with the ruling Democratic Justice Party (DJP) of President Tae-Woo Roh (a YoungNamese), forming a new conservative alliance. The only remaining opposition party and the most radical of the three, the Party for Peace and Democracy (PPD), led by Dae Jung Kim (a HoNamese), harshly criticized the merger as a betrayal of the Korean people and called for immediate elections to allow the people to judge the merger. There were scattered demonstrations protesting the merger throughout the country and police clashed with students on campuses in Seoul.
Feb 9, 1990 The new ruling Democratic Liberal Party (DLP) was officially inaugurated. President Roh and opposition leaders, Young Sam Kim and Jong Pil Kim, became joint leaders of the new party. Small but violent protests took place in Kwangju, the stronghold of the PPD, as well as among students at universities in Seoul.
May 1990 Tae Woo Roh's government experienced the worst popular unrest since its creation, as many thousands of students participated in street demonstrations throughout the country. Students protested the beating to death of a student demonstrator by police. The protests intensified demanding Roh's resignation. These student protests simultaneously occurred with the traditional demonstrations commemorating the 1980 Kwangju uprising. The protests led to at least eight cases of self-immolation and forced Roh to replace the Prime Minister.
Jun 3, 1990 Protests continued and the new Prime Minister Won Shik Chung was harassed by college students. The government initiated a tough response to the protests, successfully diminishing the size of the protests.
Apr 9, 1991 A new opposition, New Democratic Union (NDU) or New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Dae Jung Kim, was formally established by the merger of Kim's PPD and the small opposition party, the Party for New Democratic Alliance (PNDA). The merger did not greatly increase the size of the dissident party, but expanded the geographical area of support beyond the PPD's traditional HoNam's stronghold, including Kwangju. Consequently, the merger was expected to improve the prospects of Dae Jung Kim's anticipated campaign for the presidency in late 1992. Meanwhile, the ruling DLP has experienced disputes among its three factions over internal hegemony and the proposed presidential candidate.
Jun 1991 The ruling DLP achieved an overwhelming victory in local elections, gaining 564 of the 866 seats, and securing control of 11 of the 15 assemblies. The main opposition party, NDP, gained 165 seats. Although the NDP secured a council majority in its stronghold of Kwangju and other Cholla provinces, it failed to solicit support from other regions.
Jun 30, 1991 Dae Jung Kim, the leader of the NDP, had proposed to resign in order to promote the formation of broader opposition groups, beyond regionalism, for the upcoming presidential and legislative elections. But the NDP legislators and party executives voted to maintain the present leadership.
Sep 10, 1991 The NDP and the small Democratic Party, led by Ki Taek Lee (a YoungNamese, who had been a member of Young Sam's former opposition party until Kim's merger with the ruling DJP), merged to launch the Democratic Party under the joint leadership of Dae Jung Kim and Ki Taek Lee. The merger restored the former two-party structure after several years of regional political groupings. The merger enhanced Dae Jung Kim's prospects for the presidency, by integrating Lee's power base in YoungNam into Kim's strong power base in HoNam. As such, the merger became a threat to Young Sam Kim. Young Sam Kim has been a YoungNam favorite (particularly in Pusan, the country's second biggest city located in Kyongsang). Kim was the opposition leader, but joined the ruling DLP through a merger in February 1990. After joining the DLP, he lost many of his long-time supporters.
May 19, 1992 Young Sam Kim was chosen as the ruling DLP's presidential candidate. This decision resulted in violent demonstrations in Seoul and elsewhere, as thousands of students condemned Young Sam Kim for his alleged betrayal and demanded the disbanding of the DLP.
Sep 18, 1992 President Tae Woo Roh announced that he was resigning from the ruling DLP (where he was currently serving as honorary president) in order to form a neutral cabinet for a fair presidential election. Roh's move was interpreted as aimed at separating himself from Young Sam Kim (with whom Roh had been having an increasingly tense relationship). Without Roh's support, the chances of Young Sam Kim winning the presidential elections are lower. However, some people saw Roh's decision as a politically-well calculated move, since his "perceived" fairness would attract more voters to the DLP's candidate. Dae Jung Kim and Ju Young Chung (the leader of the Unification National Party [UNP], a new opposition party) welcomed Roh's decision and expressed possible cooperation with Roh in the formation of a "genuine" neutral cabinet.
Sep 21, 1992 The stability of the DLP was weakened by Jong Chan Lee's launching of a new political organization. Lee was Young Sam Kim's rival during the party's presidential nomination campaigns. He enjoys wide support in Seoul that might prove damaging to Young Sam Kim.
Oct 5, 1992 President Roh officially left the DLP, reshuffling his Cabinet on October 7. He recruited non-party figures to six election-related key posts. Opposition parties cheered Roh's action. Meanwhile, severe contention within the DLP continued to grow throughout October.
Dec 18, 1992 Young Sam Kim was elected in the presidential election, becoming the first civilian president in South Korea since 1960. Young Sam Kim gained 4.2 percent of the HoNam vote while getting 66.8 percent of the YoungNam vote. In contrast, Dae Jung Kim received 9.4 percent of the Young vote while receiving 81.2 percent in HoNam, his home region. Overall, Young Sam Kim gained 1,935,956 more votes than Dae Jung Kim. This gap is almost the same as the difference of votes (1,932,958 votes) between what Young Sam Kim received from YoungNam (4,747,184) and what Kim Dae-Jung received from HoNam (2,814,226).
Dec 21, 1992 Following his defeat in the presidential elections, Dae Jung Kim announced his resignation as co-chairman of the Democratic Party (DP) and as a member of the National Assembly. Dae Jung Kim retired from political affairs.
Feb 25, 1993 Young Sam Kim was inaugurated for a single five-year term as the 7th President of Republic of Korea. He pledged to promote the equal development of all regions. Kim appointed In Sung Hwang (a HoNamese) as Prime Minister. The major opposition party, DP, has experienced a leadership contest since the resignation of Dae Jung Kim. The DP also continued to be offended by the DLP's conduct during the election campaign, particularly its allegation that the DP and Dae Jung Kim were sympathetic to communism (an allegation that is believed to have affected the election outcome).
Mar 12, 1993 Ki Taek Lee was elected as the leader of the DP.
Dec 16, 1993 As part of the anti bureaucratic corruption measures (which since February had led to the removal of some 3,000 government officials), President Kim replaced the Prime Minister and reshuffled the entire Cabinet.
Dec 27, 1993 President Kim sought to ease enduring HoNamese grievances (including the 1980 Kwangju Satae) by earmarking more government expenditures to Cholla and appointing HoNamese to key government posts.
May 28, 1994 Some 40,000 students staged an anti-US rally outside the South Cholla provincial government building in Kwangju, where dozens of HoNamese demonstrators were killed during the 1980 May uprising. The United States has been accused, particularly by HoNamese and student demonstrators, of supporting the suppression of the 1980 Kwangju Satae and accepting the legitimacy of Chun, following a military coup in 1980.
Jun 26, 1995 The Financial Times indicates that in the 1990s the Cholla region is rapidly emerging as South Korea's fastest growing region. During the 1960s period of industrial growth, the southeastern region of Kyongsang was favored. By 1992, the Seoul area and Kyongsang province accounted for 76% of the country's GDP and the Cholla region just 11%. However, President Young Sam Kim has followed a policy of more balanced regional growth. Cholla's infrastructure is being improved and Kwangju is being set up to the country's second science center. Korean companies are expanding their operations in the region, partly due to low land prices. The new prosperity has reportedly helped reduce regional tensions in the country (06/26/95).
Jun 29, 1995 President Young Sam Kim and his ruling Democratic Liberal Party (DLP) were dealt a major blow in the first local elections in three decades. The DLP won only five of fifteen major races. The opposition Democratic Party (DP) won the critical position of Mayor of Seoul and made inroads in the northwest provinces for the first time. Kim Dae Jung, the former leader of the DP who retired in 1992, actively campaigned during the elections, indicating that he might be paving the way for a return to the national scene. The Democratic Party won all the seats in its traditional stronghold, the Cholla region. A third party, the United Liberal Democrats (ULD), led by ousted DLP chairman Kim Jong-pil, also captured three provinces and a city. Analysts state that the results reveal that regionalism is still a potent force (Los Angeles Times, 06/29/95; Reuters, 06/28/95).
Jul 20, 1995 Demonstrations were held throughout Kwangju following a decision by prosecutors that they have no right to prosecute those responsible for the suppression of the 1980 Kwangju uprising. The "Joint Committee for the Indictment of 18th May Massacrers", an association of 136 political party chapters and social organizations in Cholla, indicated that it would launch struggles until the decision was overturned (BBC, 07/20/95).
Nov 25, 1995 President Young Sam Kim has called for the prosecution of the country's former military leaders for the massacre of anti-government protestors in Kwangju in 1980. The National Assembly is expected to pass a law that would allow for the prosecutions of Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo. Dissident groups, while welcoming the decision, also called for an investigation into charges of US military involvement. American officials have denied any involvement (International Herald Tribune, 11/25/95).
Nov 29, 1995 Over 800 students fought battles with riot police in Kwangju during a protest to demand punishment for those responsible for the 1980 Kwangju massacre. The students demanded the resignation of President Kim and the establishment of an independent inquiry into the incident. Several dozen students were dragged away in Seoul as they protested in front of the homes of Roh and Chun, the country's former military leaders (Reuters, 11/29/95).
Dec 4, 1995 Former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan (1980-88) has been arrested for staging the coup in which he gained power in December of 1979. Chun is also expected to face murder charges relating to the 1980 Kwangju massacre during his trial. Roh Tae Woo, the other military leader who has been accused of helping stage the coup, is already in jail facing corruption charges. Roh is also expected to be questioned regarding his role in the massacre (New York Times, 12/04/95).
Dec 18, 1995 The ruling Democratic Liberal Party is changing its name to the New Korea Party. The name change is reported to be an attempt by President Kim to distance himself from the party's old guard, including the former military rulers (Korea Economic Daily, 12/18/95).
Dec 19, 1995 The National Assembly has passed a special law on the May 18,1980 Kwangju massacre that will allow for the prosecution of the country's former military leaders. The assembly also adopted a special law that will allow for the elimination of any statute of limitation for those who are involved in rebellion or "enemy-benefiting" activities (Xinhua News Agency, 12/19/95).
Apr 12, 1996 President Kim declared victory in the parliamentary polls saying that voters had chosen reforms amid stability over old-style partisan politics. He also, however, expressed concern over deepening regional rivalry which was reflected in the checkered voting pattern. Cholla province heavily supported the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) party of Kim Dae-Jung. The United Liberal Democrats, a conservative party, won in Chungchong province, home of its leader Kim Jong-Pil. The ruling New Korea Party dominated in Pusan City and South Kyongsang province. The NCNP accused the ruling party of electioneering and playing up recent North Korean forays into the demilitarized zone. (Agence France Press (AFP))
Dec 19, 1997 Kim Dae Jung was assured victory in the presidential election. In November, Kim aligned with Kim Jong Pil and Park Tae Joon, a powerful industrialist. Eighty percent of the electorate voted. (Japan Economic News Wire (JEN)).
Feb 24, 1998 Kim Dae Jung's top economic advisor said years of government intervention in the economy were over and pledged a free market economy open to foreign investment. (AFP)
Aug 7, 1998 President Kim Dae Jung planned to visit southeast Kyongsang province before Cholla province, careful to visit the former before the latter which heavily supports him. The trip was delayed due to heavy flooding. (Korean Herald)
Sep 26, 1998 The ruling NCNP demanded that the opposition Grand National Party withdraw its plan to hold a mass rally in Taegu, Kyongsang province. The GNP ignored the government warning and held the rally to denounce what it claims is a government attempt to destroy the opposition. The government accused the GNP of trying to fan regional animosity. The government has been closing in on opposition leaders like Lee Ki-teaek, the former GNP president from Pusan, in an anti-corruption campaign. The GNP lost parliamentary control to the ruling coalition and GNP MPs have threatened to resign. (Korea Herald)
Jan 25, 1999 The GNP held a mass rally in Masan, Kyongsang province, one of its key power bases. Thousands of GNP supporters attended the rally during which the GNP accused the government of mismanagement of the economy and spying on opposition lawmakers. The government responded by blasting the GNP for fomenting regional antipathy. It also threatened legal action against the GNP for spreading rumors aimed at provoking regional hostility. (Korea Herald)
Feb 2, 1999 President Kim vowed to reconcile the rival southeast and southwest regions through political regrouping. He said the NCNP would rewrite the election law that would introduce a German-style voting system that would require voters to cast ballots both for the candidates and political parties they favor. The current system lets voters cast ballots only for the individual, not for the party. Kim also defended the decision to recruit opposition lawmakers to become a majority in the National Assembly. (Korea Herald)
Mar 30, 1999 Regional rivalry between Cholla and Kyongsang provinces showed signs of easing thanks to increased exchanges between the two regions. The governments of the two regions set up sisterly relations in October 1998 to carry out exchanges in various fields including government administration, culture, sports, and business. There are also exchanges between the educational institutions of the two regions. (Korea Herald)
Apr 23, 1999 President Kim appealed to Kyongsang citizens to lay a "bridge of reconciliation" to their neighbors in Cholla province. The ruling and opposition parties have been trying to gain political support in advance of the 2000 parliamentary elections. Kim enjoys little public support in Kyongsang, and it has dropped further due to controversies over his political appointees, anti-corruption campaign, corporate reforms, and a new Korea-Japan fisheries pact. (Korea Herald)
Apr 24, 1999 President Kim tried to ally fears in Pusan over the fate of a Samsung Motors plant in the city. It is being taken over by Daewoo. (Korea Herald)
Oct 8, 1999 At the opening of a new plant in North Kyongsang province, President Kim called for an end to politics swayed by regional prejudices. He stated that more senior administration officials come from Kyongsang than Cholla provinces and that the southeat Kyongsang provinces benefited from a larger budget than the Cholla provinces. (Korea Herald)

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