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Kim Young-sam talks about Roh Moo-hyun

July 28th, 2006 . by Matt

Darin found an interesting Youtube video of a rare interview with former Korean President Kim Young-sam. In it he talks about Roh Moo-hyun and offers some surprising criticism.

Kim Young-sam
“He [Roh Moo-hyun] is an eccentric”

Kim Young-sam
“He hates America and Japan”

Kim Young-sam
“I made a big mistake bringing him into politics”

Kim Young-sam
“I did not think he would become President”

On the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the North Korean regime, Kim Young-sam says that Roh has refused to meet with the families of the victims, and that if the President of South Korea were to meet with them, it would send a big message to the North. He said that he thinks that the order for the kidnapping came straight from Kim Jong Il, considering the power structure in North Korea. He also said it is up to Japan to use its power to force the North Korean regime to return the victims.

Kim Young-sam
“I think Japan should put economic sanctions on North Korea”

Kim Young-sam
“North Korea is relying heavily on Japan [economically]”

Kim Young-sam
“And they have Chosen Soren (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) and that money goes to the North”

Kim Young-sam
“Its a huge amount of money”

The interview is in Japanese, and Kim Young-sam speaks it quite well. At 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the video, you can see a coherent President Bush talk about the North Korean kidnappings, so just fast forward to that if you cannot understand Japanese.

What former President Kim Young-sam says about Roh is nothing really new to any of us, but having it confirmed by an insider is most instructive.

7 Responses to “Kim Young-sam talks about Roh Moo-hyun”

  1. comment number 1 by: georgyporgy

    Why Y.S. now?
    Historically, the Korean government has flared anti-Japanese sentiment among its citizens whenever it needs to keep their eyes off internal problems. The Y.S. regime was no exception.
    Although the narrative in the video says that he is pro-Japan (親日派) as well as he has a good command of Japanese, it is misleading.
    I still clearly remember that at the edge of the IMF crisis, he even said that the Koreans must “correct” the Japanese way of thinking about the past.
    What he says toward the end of the interview is probably to the point, but he simultaneouly knows that Koizumi has no spank in the ass to do it.
    After all, Y.S. is already history.

  2. comment number 2 by: helical

    Looking back on his rhetorics during his presidency, he does seem to be a little hypocritical in this interview. But could it be that anyone with a public office (especially if they are in an important seat such as the president of the nation) needs to keep up a certain level of anti-Japanese rhetoric to maintain public support and support from his party? Now that he’s out of office, he may be free to say what’s on his mind without worrying about public backlash.


    I still clearly remember that at the edge of the IMF crisis, he even said that the Koreans must “correct” the Japanese way of thinking about the past.

    Although he may hold views about the past that conflict with Japanese views, he’s talking about modern issues and not historical issues in this video, so I don’t think it matters that much.

  3. comment number 3 by: georgyporgy


    Thanx for your comment. I totally agree with you.
    However, my point is that Y.S. was just one among many who had recourse to populism when on the throne.
    My message for him is: Go and talk to your own people.

  4. comment number 4 by: usinkorea

    That fact he speaks Japanese well would discredit his opinion on any of this to a large chunk of Korean adults.

  5. comment number 5 by: Malaclypse

    While I’m not too familiar with his presidency myself, I’m not too surprised to hear that he is criticizing Roh for something he did to some degree himself.

    That’s something that’s fairly common in American politics in particular, as well. A lot of politicians sound very different, critical, and honest once they’re in a position where they no longer have to pander for votes or worry about keeping their jobs.

    Once the Bush presidency is over, look forward to a *lot* of people coming out and talking about how fucked up it all was.

  6. comment number 6 by: KapSin

    For YS to criticize Roh for being anti-Japanese is like Stalin criticizing Hitler for being uncharitable toward national minorities. What a hypocrite.

  7. comment number 7 by: Joseph Steinberg

    I don’t see on the NK issue, and how both the ROK nationalists and progressives view it, building a consensus with Tokyo, let alone just speaking Japanese on a Japanese program, will do much good. As long as there are divergent positions within the Big Five on the DPRK, with the only colaition seemingly on the PRC-ROK-Russian side, ROk presidents can criticize each other until Takeshima is eroded into a knob. KYS trying to join cause with the Japanese Gaullists is conceivable, but hardly politically viable in the ROK, either. There would have to be a huge earthquake in ROK politics for a US-ROK-Japan conservative consensus to form. KYS might as well emigrate to Japan.

    As far as sanctions, Tokyo would have to make bigger noises about actually giving Pyongyang cash for backing down before sanctions would seem like a stick. I’m not advocating that. I’d rather see the conservative consensus arise. At this point all the Agreed Framework tactics are dead. Pyongyang is in survival mode until the bitter end.