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Kallie Szczepanski

Kim Dae Jung's Near-Death Experience

By January 30, 2013

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South Korea's Kim Dae Jung and North Korea's Kim Jong Il in 2000

Long before he became President of South Korea, and instituted his Nobel Peace Prize-winning "Sunshine Policy" toward North Korea, Kim Dae Jung had an extremely frightening near-death experience. Kim was living in exile in Japan in 1973, after daring to run for president against dictator Park Chung Hee. From exile, Kim continued to criticize Park's new Yushin constitution, which granted the president sweeping powers.

In August of 1973, agents of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) kidnapped Kim from his Tokyo hotel room. In his Nobel acceptance speech, Kim recounts that, "The agents took me to their boat at anchor along the seashore. They tied me up, blinded me, and stuffed my mouth. Just when they were about to throw me overboard, Jesus Christ appeared before me with such clarity. I clung to him and begged him to save me. At that very moment, an airplane came down from the sky to rescue me from the moment of death."

Actually, it was US Ambassador to South Korea Philip Habib's intervention that saved Kim Dae Jung. Hearing that Kim had been kidnapped by South Korean agents, Habib rushed to the Blue House to remonstrate with Park Chung Hee, and prevented Kim Dae Jung from being tossed overboard into the East Sea.

Photo of President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea with Kim Jong Il of North Korea in 2000 from Getty Images.

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