Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan dies
A great champion of democracy against South Korea’s military dictatorship in the 1960s- 1980s, he was a supporter of religious freedom in North Korea, which he saw as a condition for intra-Korean reconciliation.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Card Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, 86, passed away at 6.12 pm at St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul, the archdiocese of Seoul announced today.

Head of the archdiocese for 30 years from 1968 till his retirement in 1998, Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan was appointed by Pope Paul VI in 1969, becoming the youngest and the first Korean to hold the title. Kim retired as head of the Seoul Diocese in 1998.

The cardinal is credited with strongly opposing the country's military dictatorships and using his position to make the Catholic Church the strongest witness for human rights and democracy.

After 1998 he was no longer involved in the day-to-day running of archdiocesan affairs but remained an influential figure in Korean society.

Although he supported reconciliation with North Korea, he insisted the latter guarantee full religious freedom.

He was hospitalised last August and was in and out coma for briefs periods of time.

Cardinal Kim was born in Daegu. He studied philosophy at Tokyo’s Sophia University and at the Catholic University of Korea from 1947 to 1951. Later he studied sociology in Germany,

His successor at the helm of the archdiocese of Seoul Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk was appointed cardinal in 2006.

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