Saturday, August 08, 2009


Kim Dae-jung Hospitalized

South Korean TV news has reported that former president Kim Dae-jung (1998-2003) is seriously ill and has been rushed to the hospital. Kim, better known among his supporters as "DJ" is 84 and has been in poor health recently.

If he were to die it would be South Korea's second president, and second left-leaning leader, to die this year following the suicide of Roh Moo-hyun in May.

Kim was imprisoned under the authoritarian rule of former President Park Chung-hee in the 1970s, having run against Park in the 1971 election. He was granted clemency after Park's assassination in 1979, only to be arrested again and sentenced to execution for sedition. With the intervention of the U.S. government and a letter from Pope John Paul II, Kim was granted clemency but exiled until 1995.

After Kim's election in 1998, he instituted the Sunshine Policy, which sought reconciliation and engagement with the North, for fear that a sudden collapse of the North would be disastrous for both.

Kim took part in the first ever summit between North and South Korean leaders in 2000, meeting Kim Jong-il and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. His presidency was, however, marred by economic concerns, particularly involving the Korea Exchange Bank.

For more information on Kim Dae-jung click here.

(Update: Word is now that Kim's condition has stabilized, though he remains under watch at Severance Hospital.)


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