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Former South Korean president Kim Young-Sam dies at 87

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[SEOUL] Former South Korean president Kim Young-Sam, whose election pulled down the final curtain on more than 30 years of military rule, died on Sunday, hospital officials said. He was 87.

The pro-democracy activist who served as president from 1993-1998, was suffering from a serious blood infection and died shortly after midnight, several days after being hospitalised with a high fever, Seoul National University Hospital president Oh Byung-Hee told reporters.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye expressed "deep condolences," her spokesman said. Seoul announced a state funeral for Kim, to be held on Thursday after four days of mourning.

Kim's term was bookended by two major events, the first nuclear crisis with North Korea in 1994 and the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, when he accepted a $58 billion 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.

A leading figure in the pro-democracy movement, Kim was twice placed under house arrest for a total of two years in the early 1980s.

He stood in South Korea's first free direct presidential election in 1987, but split the opposition vote with fellow activist Kim Dae-Jung, allowing the former general Roh Tae-Woo to take office.

He defeated Kim Dae-Jung in the 1992 election and was inaugurated the following year - becoming only the third civilian to hold the office and first since 1962.

In office, Kim launched a popular anti-corruption campaign and had his two predecessors, Chun Doo-Hwan and Roh, arrested on bribery charges that later morphed into trial for mutiny and treason.

Both men received lengthy prison sentences but served only two years before being released under a presidential pardon.