Kim Dae Jung, South Korea's opposition leader, began a hunger strike yesterday to win back support from an electorate dazzled by the government's diplomatic successes and dialogue with North Korea. Mr. Kim demanded that the government hold local elections, overhaul the defense agency, which is embroiled in a domestic spy scandal, and scrap plans to change South Korea's government from a presidential to a Westminster-style cabinet system.
Kim said that he would fast until President Roh Tae Woo's ruling party supported his demands.
Meanwhile, Mr. Roh replaced his defense minister and a top general yesterday to minimize political damage from a domestic spying row.
A spokesman said that Roh accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Lee Sang Hoon, who took responsibility for alleged surveillance by defense security agents.
Mr. Lee had served as defense minister since August 1988. Following his resignation, he was replaced by retired army chief of staff Lee Jong Koo. Roh also fired Lt. Gen. Cho Nam Pung, commander of the Defense Security Command, which has been accused of spying on politicians, dissidents, journalists, and labor and student activists.
In a separate development, North and South Korean officials met yesterday to discuss a soccer match between the two Koreas on Thursday in Pyongyang. Another match is scheduled in Seoul for Oct. 22.