State funeral for former S. Korean president

South Korean President Park Geun Hye comforting Mr Kim Hyun Chul, son of late former president Kim Young Sam, who died on Sunday after a blood infection.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye comforting Mr Kim Hyun Chul, son of late former president Kim Young Sam, who died on Sunday after a blood infection.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SEOUL • In freezing temperatures and light snowfall, South Korea held a state funeral for former president Kim Young Sam, whose 1992 election victory brought a formal end to more than 30 years of military rule.

The one-time pro-democracy activist who served as president from 1993 to 1998 died in hospital on Sunday after a serious blood infection.

He was 87.

Mr Kim's term was bookended by two major events, the first nuclear crisis with North Korea in 1994, and the Asian financial crisis of 1997 to 1998, when he accepted a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

He also had the two generals who served as presidents before him indicted and convicted on treason charges, although he pardoned both men at the end of his presidency.

Mr Kim's funeral casket, draped with the national flag, was carried yesterday from Seoul National University Hospital by 11 uniformed bearers shortly after midday and placed in a black, stretch hearse.

The hearse was then driven through the streets of Seoul in a long funeral cortege.

In contrast to the thousands who lined the roads for the state funeral of the populist president Roh Moo Hyun who committed suicide in 2009, the turnout yesterday was negligible - a reflection of public ambivalence over Mr Kim's legacy.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'State funeral for former S. Korean president'. Print Edition | Subscribe