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SEOUL, South Korea â?? Kim Young-sam, the former president of South Korea who replaced the final of the countryâ??s military leaders, purged politicized generals and introduced a landmark reform aimed at transparency in financial transactions, died on Sunday. He was 87.
Mr. Kim, who was president from 1993 to 1998, died of septicemia and heart failure, stated Oh Byung-hee, the chief of Seoul National University Hospital, where Mr. Kim was admitted with a fever on Friday. He had been treated for a series of strokes and pneumonia in current years.
Mr. Kim, an outspoken critic of military dictators from the 1960s by means of the 1980s, was a single of the â??three Kimsâ? â?? the other folks were former President Kim Dae-jung and former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil â?? who played major roles, often relying on regional help from their home provinces, in the course of South Koreaâ??s turbulent transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Mr. Kim was born in 1927, a son of a wealthy anchovy fisherman on Geoje Island, off the southeast coast of South Korea, throughout a time when all of the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony. He was elected to Parliament at age 26 and created a following as an opposition leader famed for his daring criticism of Park Chung-hee, who seized power in a coup in 1961 and tortured and imprisoned dissidents prior to his assassination in 1979.
Credit Heesoon Yim/Agence France-Presse â?? Getty Pictures
Mr. Park had Mr. Kim expelled from Parliament for criticizing his dictatorship in the course of an interview with The New York Times in 1979. Mr. Kimâ??s colleagues resigned from Parliament in protest, and massive antigovernment demonstrations broke out in Mr. Kimâ??s political residence ground in the southeast. Mr. Park was assassinated by his spy chief later that year.
Mr. Kimâ??s travails continued when Mr. Park was replaced by Chun Doo-hwan, an army main general who engineered a coup to fill the power vacuum left by his patronâ??s death. Mr. Kim was barred from politics and put under property arrest. He once staged a 23-day hunger strike.
â??Dawn will come even if the rooster is strangled,â? he when said, a saying that became a catchphrase for Koreansâ?? yearning for democracy.
Mr. Kim was as effectively recognized for a lifetime rivalry with Kim Dae-jung, a fellow opposition leader from the southwest Jeolla area. They both ran for president in 1987 in South Koreaâ??s 1st democratic election and split the opposition vote, permitting Mr. Chunâ??s handpicked successor, Roh Tae-woo, another former army basic, to win.
In 1990, Mr. Kim merged his celebration with Mr. Rohâ??s military-backed governing celebration in a move widely condemned as a betrayal of pro-democracy forces. The merger was a political marriage of convenience: Mr. Roh wanted a parliamentary majority, and Mr. Kim, who distrusted Kim Dae-jung as significantly as he detested the military dictators, believed that he would never ever win the presidency as lengthy as the other Mr. Kim competed with him for the opposition vote.
When in the governing party, whose leading hierarchy integrated a lot of former generals, Mr. Kim and his followers, vastly outnumbered by rival factions but all seasoned veterans in party politics, rapidly expanded their ranks and dominated the celebration.
Mr. Kim beat Kim Dae-jung in the 1992 election to become the initial civilian leader in South Korea in much more than 3 decades.
Although he won the election with the support of the military-backed party, Mr. Kim did not overlook his roots. He purged a clique of politically ambitious army officers who went by the name Hanahoe, which roughly meant â??an association of one-for-all, all-for-one particular.â? Bound by their regional prejudices and sponsored by the military dictators, the members of the group were so potent they blackmailed â?? and even beat up â?? members of Parliament. The officers had been forced to retire.
Mr. Kimâ??s military purge culminated in the arrest and conviction of Mr. Chun and Mr. Roh on mutiny and corruption charges for their roles in the 1979 coup and a bloody crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising in the following year, as effectively as for collecting hundreds of millions of dollars every in bribes from businessmen. (Mr. Kim later pardoned them and released them from prison.)
Mr. Kim also barred South Koreans from owning bank accounts below pseudonyms. That adjust is regarded one particular of the most essential landmarks in South Koreaâ??s lengthy-operating campaign against corruption bank accounts below borrowed names had been extensively employed by politicians and businessmen to hide slush funds.
But Mr. Kimâ??s time in workplace was also marked by missed possibilities.
In his memoir, Mr. Kim said he persuaded President Bill Clinton to cancel the United Statesâ?? plan to bomb North Koreaâ??s nuclear facilities in 1994 for fear of war.
â??Looking back,â? Mr. Kim stated in an interview in 2009, â??I consider the North Koreans believe they can say whatever they want simply because no matter what they do, the Americans will by no means attack them.â?
The 1994 nuclear crisis was defused when former President Jimmy Carter met with the North Korean leader at the time, Kim Il-sung, in Pyongyang, the Northâ??s capital, and brokered what would have been the first summit meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas. But Kim Il-sung died of heart failure in July 1994, two weeks before the meeting was scheduled to take location. â?Fate played a trick on me,â? Mr. Kim said. â??If I had met Kim Il-sung, I would have changed the nationâ??s history.â?
The achievement that had eluded him â?? becoming the 1st South Korean leader to hold a summit meeting with the North â?? went to his rival and successor, Kim Dae-jung. In 2000, Kim Dae-jung flew to Pyongyang and met with Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sungâ??s son and successor. That year, Kim Dae-jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
By the time Kim Young-sam ended his 5-year term in early 1998, he was a sad, disgraced lame duck.
In 1997, South Koreaâ??s proud economy swallowed the humiliation of a $ 58 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund during the Asian financial crisis. Mr. Kim was criticized for failing to stop the crisis by overhauling the countryâ??s effective household-run conglomerates, which had expanded on reckless borrowing and with cozy ties to the government.
With thousands of men and women losing their jobs, Mr. Kim stopped jogging in the early morning, a daily routine that he had never ever missed until then.
Mr. Kimâ??s reputation was additional tarnished with the arrest of a son on corruption charges. His governing party was so unpopular that South Koreans have been ready to hand over energy to the opposition for the first time, as they did with the election of Kim Dae-jung in late 1997.