|President Kim Dae-jung reads a copy of The Korea Times at Cheong Wa Dae in 1998. Korea Times file|
By Park Ji-won
Lee Hee-ho, the late first lady and women's rights activist, and her husband the late former President Kim Dae-jung had a special attachment to The Korea Times.
It is well-known that Lee and Kim were loyal readers of The Korea Times especially when the authoritarian governments screened local newspapers written in Korean and ordered them to rewrite stories in favor of the regimes. The Korea Times, however, was able to avoid the surveillance as it was written in a foreign language, which led the couple to read the oldest English daily in South Korea for its more accurate and fairer information about Korean politics during Kim's hospital detention, for example.
Lee, who clipped English newspapers for Kim when he was in prison and in the hospital, delivered The Korea Times upon Kim's secret request to his confined room when he was detained, showing their attachment to the paper.
A New York Times article that interviewed Kim right after his 1998 inauguration states that "Kim learned English from an American Peace Corps volunteer and by tutoring himself, puzzling over the English-language daily Korea Times with a dictionary."
Kim made a special contribution to The Korea Times for its edition published on Nov. 5 in 1998 to mark the paper's 48th anniversary. This was the first time an incumbent president made a contribution to a local newspaper in Korean history. Lee also made a special contribution to the paper published on Nov. 2, 2001.
She died of old age at Severance Hospital at 11:37 p.m., June 10. She had been hospitalized due to her worsening health since March 20.