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Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 15:49
Former ROK first lady, feminist Lee Hee-ho dies at 97
By Associated Press
Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 15:49 By Associated Press

SEOUL, Republic of Korea — Lee Hee-ho from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and a feminist activist who fought for democracy against dictatorships alongside her husband and future President Kim Dae-jung, has died. She was 97.

Lee, a devout Christian, left a will saying that she would pray for ROK's people and a peaceful unification with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in heaven, according to Park Han-shik, an official from the Kim Dae Jung Peace Center. Park said Lee died Monday.

READ MORE: US, ROK discuss Korean Peninsula's denuclearization

ROK President Moon Jae-in tweeted that the country has lost a "great person" who devoted her life to women and democracy.

Born in the Seoul in 1921, Lee following her college graduation and studies in the United States began actively campaigning for women's rights in the 1950s, establishing activist and research groups and serving a senior role with ROK's YWCA.

She married Kim in 1962 when he was a dissident politician. Kim, who died in 2009, survived a death sentence and an assassination attempt by dictators before winning the presidency in 1997.

Kim won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his pro-democracy struggle and his rapprochement policies with DPRK, months after he met then-DPRK leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang for the first summit between the Koreas since their 1950-53 war.

DPRK sent a high-level delegation to the ROK after Kim Dae-jung died in 2009.

There's speculation the DPRK may send another delegation to mourn Lee's death although diplomatic activity between the Koreas has halted since a February summit between current DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump collapsed over disagreements over exchanging sanctions relief for nuclear disarmament.

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An official from Seoul's Unification Ministry, which deals with affairs with DPRK, said that the DPRK had not expressed a desire to send a delegation as of Tuesday morning and that it was unclear whether the country would. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.

Lee had joined her husband's 2000 trip to Pyongyang for a summit and also visited the DPRK capital in 2011 after the death of Kim Jong-il.

She is survived by her two sons.

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