Kim Dae-jung, the former South Korean president who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his reconciliation efforts with the North, died today at age 85. He had been hospitalized with pneumonia since last month. As a pro-democracy opposition lawmaker, Kim built a reputation as a passionate champion of human rights and democracy, and he survived several suspected assassination attempts, including a dramatic 1973 abduction at a Tokyo hotel.
As president from 1998-2003, Kim was architect of the "Sunshine Policy" of reaching out to North Korea as a way to encourage reconciliation. His efforts led to an unprecedented thaw in relations with the North and culminated in a historic North-South summit—the first on the divided peninsula—and a jubilant meeting in Pyongyang with leader Kim Jong-Il in 2000.