Thomas More Kim Dae-jung, 1924/5 – 2009

“I underwent many ordeals in my life but I never strayed from principles and never compromised with injustice, even at the risk of my life,” Kim Dae-jung said in 2006, according to AFP. He survived several assassination attempts, was sentenced to death, and tortured in jail. He was exiled twice and put under house arrest countless times. He had become Catholic in 1956 (taking the name Thomas More), he was a dissident, and became Korea’s first Catholic president, in 1998. Pope John Paul II probably saved him from execution in 1980 by writing a letter to then president (or dictator) Chun Doo-hwan. When Chun himself was sentenced to death in 1996, for authorizing the Gwangju massacre and for charges of corruption, he was pardoned through the efforts of then-President-elect Kim Dae-jung.

After 1998, he Kim continued to live through hopes and backlashes. His Sunshine Policy toward North Korea was and is disputed, and all three of his sons and several aides became involved in a series of corruption scandals.

He left a mixed political legacy. And he left this lecture.

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