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The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Seoul
"President Kim said unification was still a long way off"
 real 28k

The BBC's Matt Frei
interviews Kim Dae-jung
 real 56k

Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 00:05 GMT 01:05 UK
Kim hails peace prize boost
Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung
Kim Jong-il (left) should have shared the Nobel Prize, says Kim Dae-jung
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has said that the Nobel Peace Prize, which he won earlier this month, will give a boost to peace between the Koreas.

Mr Kim was speaking to the BBC in his first in-depth interview since being named the winner of the prize.


I felt a little sorry for the chairman

Kim Dae-jung
He said that it demonstrated world support for the attempts by North and South Korea to turn their backs on half a century of Cold War hostilities.

He pledged to continue to work for human rights and democracy in North Korea, but said attempts to rush Pyongyang at this stage could prove counterproductive.

And he admitted that he was surprised that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had not been named as a joint winner of the prize.

Joint work

He paid tribute to Kim Jong-il's role in the North-South summit in Pyongyang in June, which was the main focal point in the recent thaw in relations.

Kime Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il
The visit follows the historic inter-Korean summit in June
"The main reason for my being given the reward this year is the historic South-North Korean summit, and of course that summit was not just my own work," he said.

"It was the joint work with Chairman Kim. So in that regard, I felt a little sorry for the chairman."

Unification

President Kim said that while unification was the ultimate goal for the two Koreas, it was still a long way off.

The main priorities were to reduce tension and expand ties between the two countries, which are still technically at war.

Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-ill: Ending years of international isolation
He would not press the issues of human rights and democracy at this early stage as that could be detrimental to efforts to build trust, he said.

Rapid unification was undesirable and fraught with risks in view of the vast economic differences, he added.

Unification had to be achieved gradually as confidence was built up between the two sides.

Albright visit

Mr Kim's remarks coincided with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's groundbreaking visit to the isolated communist state.

Mrs Albright's visit is seen as opening a new chapter in relations between the two countries, and could pave the way for a visit by President Clinton later this year.

Mrs Albright is the the first American the North Korean leader has met.

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See also:

23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Albright opens new Korean chapter
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Mrs Albright's visit
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Seoul searching over Albright's visit
19 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
UK and North Korea forge ties
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
12 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea: A military threat?
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