South Korea Suddenly, A New Day

Roh Tae Woo's daring offer calms a crisis

The speaker at an executive council meeting of South Korea's ruling Democratic Justice Party had labored over his speech at home all weekend. He dictated the final version to his secretary, who drafted a single handwritten copy. So when Party Chairman Roh Tae Woo got up to speak last week and pulled that piece of paper from his suit-jacket pocket, virtually no one in the crowded room was aware that history was about to be made.

In the 39 years of often fractious political life since South Korea became a republic, there had never been a policy reversal so sweeping and...

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