South Koreans have been paying tribute to Kim Dae-jung, the former president regarded by many as a towering figure in their country’s struggle for democracy. He died aged 85.
His widow Lee Hee-Ho led mourners at a ceremony in Seoul. UN Secretary General and compatriot Ban Ki-Moon was among those offering his condolences. Kim rose to prominence through his resolute opposition to South Korea’s early authoritarian regime. It won him lifelong admiration among many in the country. One man in a Seoul street said: “I feel very depressed. He built South Korea’s democracy. I’ve heard this news just now and I feel really terrible.” “He was blessed to live for 85 years and die peacefully. It’s really sad that we’ve lost such a leader and I’m worried about where the country will go now,” said a woman. But it was his efforts to reconcile the two Koreas that earned him plaudits on the international stage. He was the architect of the so-called “Sunshine Policy”, that sought to improve relations with North Korea, through economic and diplomatic incentives. It was in recognition of this that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. Kim died of heart failure in hospital after suffering a bout of pneumonia.