former south korean president kim dae-jung dies

Kim Dae-jung, a dissident who survived a death sentence and an assassination attempt by military dictators before winning the South Korean presidency and receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, died on Tuesday of heart failure He was 83: Kim Dae-jung, 83, Ex-President of South Korea, Dies.

In 2000, Kim flew to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il in the first summit meeting between the two nations. That meeting led to an unprecedented detente on the divided peninsula, which remains technically at war because no peace treaty was signed at the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Kim became a symbol of the South Korean struggle for democracy and the dream of reconciliation, and eventual reunification, with North Korea. When the Nobel Committee awarded him the Peace Prize in 2000, it was in recognition of his struggle as a pro-democracy campaigner as well as his vision in overcoming five decades of mistrust and hostility to engineer the Korean summit meeting.

Believe it or not, a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to briefly meet Kim Dae-jung during a leadership program trip to Korea. We heard him speak, shook his hand, then took a photo with him. To be honest, as an American, I don't think I fully grasped the global impact of his life and work at the time. As far away as it seems, I hang on to the hope that the peninsula will one day be reunified.

More here: SKorea loses champion of peace: Kim Dae-jung. And here: Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung Dies at 85. And here: Former South Korean President Kim dies.

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