South Korea — Kim Dae-jung — who survived assassination attempts and a death sentence during his years as a dissident to become president of South Korea, and whose unflagging efforts to reconcile with communist North Korea earned him the Nobel Peace Prize — died today, hospital officials said. He was 85.
Kim had been hospitalized with pneumonia since last month, said Lee Sung-man, a spokesman for Severance Hospital in Seoul. The hospital did not cite an exact cause of death.
South Korean leaders, from friends to former foes, had been paying their respects for days at the hospital to a man whose epic career spanned South Korea’s political upheaval, from the decades of harsh authoritarian rule to transformation into a full-fledged democracy.
As a pro-democracy opposition lawmaker, Kim built a reputation as a passionate champion of human rights and democracy who fought against South Korea’s military dictatorships.
Kim served as president from 1998 to 2003. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.