Kim Dae-Jung


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President of South Korea, 1998–2003Born in Kwangju, South Cholla province, he studied at the Universities of Konguk, Korea, and Kyunghee. A newspaper editor, he was elected a member of the National Assembly in 1960 for the opposition Democratic Party, whose spokesman he became in 1963. When this developed into the New Democratic Party (1967), he became its leading member, narrowly losing the presidential elections of 1971. On an extended visit to the USA and Japan, he was abducted by the Korean secret service and brought back to Korea. He was arrested periodically, and in 1980 he was sentenced to death for this alleged organization of the Kwangju uprising. Owing to international protests, this was commuted to life imprisonment, and in 1982 he was allowed to leave for the USA. He returned in 1985 to become co‐chairman of the Council for Promotion of Democracy, together with Kim Young Sam. He stood against the latter in the 1987 presidential elections to represent his Party of Peace and Democracy, but lost to Roh Tae Woo. He merged his party into the new Democratic Party, in which he maintained a high profile. In 1998, he was finally elected President. Kim oversaw the recovery of South Korea's economy. He is best remembered for his ‘sunshine’ policy, which aimed at improving relations with North Korea. Direct talks with Kim Jong Il were held in 2000. Kim Dae Jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Human Rights and Immigration.

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