President of South Korea
and 2000 Nobel Peace Prize
Born: December 3, 1925 in Mokp'o, Korea.
In 1961, on his third attempt, he was elected to the National Assembly, but within three days of his election, the Assembly was closed down by a military junta that toppled an elected government in a coup d'etat.
He was elected again in 1963, to the opposition. In 1969, he delivered a historic speech in an outdoor opposition rally in Seoul against a constitutional revision plan aimed at allowing President Park Jeoung-hui, to a third term. In 1971 he became the presidential candidate for the New Democratic Party, and won 46% of the votes. It was claimed that there was a lot of illegal electioneering by the ruling party.
In 1972, President Park imposed martial law, and passed the Yusin Constitution through the National Assembly. The following year, Kim was kidnapped from his home, to be released only after U.S and Japanese pressure.
In 1976 he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for his "March First Declaration for Democratization," but was released in 1978 and placed under house arrest.
In 1979, President Park was assassinated, and Kim was free for a short while. In 1980, though, he was imprisoned once more, by the martial law authorities, on the grounds of treason.
He was sentenced to death, which was commuted to 20 years of prison. In 1982 he was exiled to the United States, after his prison term was suspended. He returned to Korea in 1985.
In 1987 he was cleared of all outstanding charges. In December 1997, at his fourth attempt, he was elected President of South Korea.
"In the course of South Korea's decades of authoritarian rule, despite repeated threats on his life and long periods in exile, Kim Dae Jung gradually emerged as his country's leading spokesman for democracy. His election in 1997 as the republic's president marked South Korea's definitive entry among the world's democracies. As president, Kim Dae Jung has sought to consolidate democratic government and to promote internal reconciliation within South Korea.
"With great moral strength, Kim Dae Jung has stood out in East Asia as a leading defender of universal human rights against attempts to limit the relevance of those rights in Asia. His commitment in favour of democracy in Burma and against repression in East Timor has been considerable.
"Through his "sunshine policy", Kim Dae Jung has attempted to overcome more than fifty years of war and hostility between North and South Korea. His visit to North Korea gave impetus to a process which has reduced tension between the two countries. There may now be hope that the cold war will also come to an end in Korea. Kim Dae Jung has worked for South Korea's reconciliation with other neighbouring countries, especially Japan."