South Korean President. Born in Mokpo, he gave his birthdate as December 3, 1925 to escape Japanese World War II conscription. He graduated from Mokpo Commercial High School in 1943, afterwards working as a clerk in a shipping company, of which he soon became owner. He won a seat in the national legislature in 1961, but within days a coup dissolved it. When he was elected again in 1963, he became a leader of South Korea's Democratic Party. In 1968 President Park Chung Hee sought laws that would enable him to run for a third term, and Kim emerged as the main opponent. In the 1971 election he garnered 46 percent of the vote despite Park's illegal tactics, and Park imposed martial law. Kim led the opposition, and in 1973 South Korean intelligence agents abducted him in Tokyo, but international reaction resulted in his release. In 1976 he joined opposition leaders in the "Independence Day Declaration," which led to a five year prison sentence. After Park was assassinated in October 1979, Kim had his rights restored. He was again imprisoned after a 1980 coup, and was sentenced to death, but in December 1982 he was allowed to go to the US. He returned home in 1985 and was placed under house arrest, but in June 1987 his rights were restored, and he waged two campaigns for President before winning in 1997. Taking over during a financial crisis, Kim succeeded in rescuing South Korea from bankruptcy while also pursuing a policy of engagement towards North Korea. In 2000 he received the Nobel Peace Prize, and he completed his term in 2003. Kim survived five assassination attempts. He also became a Christian, and took the name Thomas More to commemorate his conversion.
Bio by: Bill McKern