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Kim Dae-jung

Letter of condolences from the WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia to Dr Whi Ho Lee, widow of Mr Kim Dae-jung, former president of South Korea.

18 August 2009

Dr Whi Ho Lee
c/o Rev. Kwon Oh-sung
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in Korea

Geneva, 18 August 2009

Dear Dr Whi Ho Lee,

It is with great sadness that the World Council of Churches (WCC) received the news that Mr Kim Dae-jung, former President of South Korea, has passed away. We join you, your sons, family, and the Korean people in thanking God for his life and leadership.

An ardent advocate of democratization and human rights in Korea, Kim Dae-jung demonstrated clear vision and courage while he was fighting tenaciously for greater political freedom in his country despite the authoritarian rule of repressive regimes in South Korea during the 1970s and 1980s. He was instrumental in strengthening the democratization movement in South Korea until the country was transformed into a full-fledged democracy. President Kim will be remembered as the architect of the "Sunshine Policy" engaging communist North Korea, which led to an unprecedented warming of ties among Koreans and advanced the unification process. His determined efforts made him a deserving recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace. His untiring efforts and long-standing commitment to achieve democratization and inter-Korean reconciliation will long be honoured by people within Korea and all over the world.

Mr Kim Dae-jung was associated with the World Council of Churches while he was under legal sentence and living in exile outside Korea. He acknowledged the WCC's support in a message of greetings he sent to the Eighth Assembly of the WCC at Harare in 1998; he stated, thus "I make special note of the fact that the Council has stood with the churches, intellectuals, students and other people of Korea during their long years of struggle to achieve democracy and reunification. I will be forever thankful for the solidarity and support it extended to me all those years that I was in agony."

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to support Mr. Kim including the time his life was under threat because of his relentless struggle for justice and peace. As the people of South Korea mourn his passing away, I write to express our sincere condolences and deep respect on behalf of the World Council of Churches and on my own behalf. We express our special prayers and thoughts for you, Dr Whi Ho Lee and your three sons. May your bereaved family and the people of the Korean Peninsula find comfort. Of Kim Dae-jung it truly can be said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9).

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
WCC general secretary