Korea peace talks lead to poll success for Kim

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Three days after announcing a peace summit with North Korea, the President of South Korea, Kim Dae Jung, saw his parliamentary strength increase markedly in the general elections yesterday.

Exit polls indicated that Mr Kim's Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) would fall only narrowly short of a majority in the National Assembly, virtually guaranteeing it will be able to form the next government with the support of political defectors and smaller parties.

The Korean Broadcasting System said the MDP was expected to win 132 seats in the 273-seat assembly. The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) was expected to win 115.

Until this week, the MDP was reckoned to be lagging behind the GNP, which dominated South Korean politics until Mr Kim became president for a five-year term in 1998. But on Monday, the election was turned upside down with the announcement that, after 50 years of being technically at war, the leaders of North and South Korea are to hold a summit meeting in June.

The GNP campaign manager, Hong Sa-duck, blamed the party's performance on the summit announcement.