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Sung-Hong Choi, South Korean Ambassador for London
"This is a giant step forward in the right direction for peace"
 real 28k

SOAC, Dr Keith Howard
"He has been a very effective President"
 real 28k

Friday, 13 October, 2000, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
S Korean leader wins peace prize
Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il
Kim Dae-jung (right) has forged new links with North Korea
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has won the Nobel Peace Prize, for his groundbreaking efforts to achieve reconciliation with North Korea.

Mr Kim emerged as the leading favourite because the prize is often awarded to boost an ongoing process.


I believe it is an unparalleled honour

President Kim Dae-jung
Nobel Committee Chairman Gunnar Berge paid tribute to Mr Kim's "sunshine policy" to improve relations between the two countries, technically still at war since the 1950s.

The policy led to Mr Kim's historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in June.

There followed a dramatic thaw in relations, including reunions between families split by the Korean War, agreements to reestablish road and rail links and co-operate in clearing landmines on the border.

'Spokesman for democracy'

But the committee also noted the 74-year-old former dissident's role in Asia in general.


With great moral strength, Kim Dae-Jung has stood out in East Asia as a leading defender of universal human rights

Nobel Prize Committee citation
In its citation it described him as "his country's leading spokesman for democracy".

"With great moral strength, Kim Dae-Jung has stood out in East Asia as a leading defender of universal human rights against attempts to limit the relevance of those rights in Asia," it said.

Responding to the annoucment Mr Kim said he was "truly thankful" for what he called "an unparalleled honour".

"I will continue in the future to dedicate myself to human rights, democracy, and peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Asia and around the world," he said.

Prize nomination

The awarding of the prize to Mr Kim was not without controversy.

Nominations for the prize close in March, meaning that Mr Kim's was submitted months before the historic meeting in Pyongyang.

Nobel Prize Committee Chairman Gunnar Berge
Gunnar Berge praised Kim's "sunshine policy"
And while North Korea's contribution was also acknowledged, the decision was a departure from the usual practice of awarding the prize jointly to both sides.

The Pyongyang leadership's perceived treatment of its people is said to have prevented Mr Kim Jong-Il from being considered.

North Korea's continued spending on military expansion including a nuclear weapons programme despite its inability to feed its own people is thought to be to blame.

It has found it difficult to shake its image as a rogue state in the eyes of the West despite restoring diplomatic relations with a number of countries.

Record year

This year, there were a record 150 nominees for the prize, including 35 organisations.

The list included US President Bill Clinton, former US Senator George Mitchell for his work on the Northern Ireland peace process, Finland's former President Martti Ahtisaari and former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for their mediation in the Balkans, and the US-based Human Rights Watch organisation.

And for the first time, a whole town was nominated: Kukes in northern Albania.

The town was nominated for accepting 150,000 refugees during the Kosovo conflict.

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See also:

13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
11 Oct 00 | Europe
The Nobel Peace Prize
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