Former South Korean leader, Nobel winner on respirator

Kim (right) with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London in 2001.
A former South Korea president who won the Nobel Peace Prize for fostering better relations between North and South Korea has been placed on a respirator in a hospital, a news agency reported Thursday.

Kim Dae-jung “became short of breath on Wednesday night and was put on a respirator around 3 a.m. this morning,” Park Chang-il, chief of Severance Hospital in Seoul, was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency. “His condition has improved since. He is conscious, and his pulse, breathing and body temperature are normal.” Park said Kim, who was being fed through a feeding tube, “has no complications, but has been receiving kidney dialysis for a long time.” He had been hospitalized since Monday and placed in the intensive care unit after being diagnosed with pneumonia, the news agency reported. Kim — who had been president from 1998 to 2003 — won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize “for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular,” the Nobel Web site said, which said he was 84 years of age. Kim specifically has been lauded for his “sunshine policy” — the effort to engage with adversary North Korea. And in 2000, he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il held a summit in Pyongyang. “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,” the Nobel Web site said.