SEOUL (Reuters) - Former South Korean President Kim Young-sam, who was elected to office in 1992 and put an end to more than three decades of military rule, died early on Sunday at the age of 87.
Kim, who had been in ill health and repeatedly hospitalized in the past three years, died of complications from sepsis and heart failure soon after midnight on Sunday, Seoul National University Hospital President Oh Byung-hee said.
Kim first won a parliamentary seat in his late twenties, beginning a life-long career in politics during which he challenged a string of authoritarian leaders and pushed for democratic reform.
He was criticized for failing to join forces with rival democracy leader Kim Dae-jung when military leaders agreed in 1987 to a constitutional amendment allowing free direct voting for the presidency, losing to former general Roh Tae-woo.
He would go on to win the next election in 1992 and served as president from 1993 to 1998 under the 1987 constitution that to this day allows for a single five-year term.
Kim saw the country’s economy take a nose-dive in the final months of his presidency, weighed down by massive foreign debt and culminating in the biggest bailout of the Asian financial crisis by the International Monetary Fund.
Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Digby Lidstone