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Former First Lady Lee Hee-ho remembered as great activist Updated: 2019-06-11 16:48:25 KST


As part of the first generation of the country's female activists, Lee Hee-ho stood at the forefront of safeguarding women's rights in South Korea.
She organized one of the nation's oldest civic groups on women's rights and in 1989, helped to bring revisions to family law, so that married women could get equal footing in dealings to do with inheritance, among others.
In 1999, Lee also helped to usher in the monumental gender discrimination law that acted as a catalyst for subsequent court rulings in favor of women's rights otherwise overlooked in the past.

She also stood by her husband and former president Kim Dae-jung, well known for his pro-democracy movement during the 1970s through the 1980s.
In 1980, Lee helped to draw international attention to her husband, saving him from the death penalty sentenced under South Korea's then military dictatorship.
Even on the day of her husband's death, Lee spoke of democracy.

"I sincerely hope we live with the conscience of acting. This was my husband's dying wish."

Lee also exerted efforts to improve inter-Korean relations.
In 2000, she accompanied her husband to Pyeongyang for the first historic summit between the two Koreas, and served as special envoy to the North in 2011 to send her condolences to the late Kim Jong-il.
The former first lady also served as the head of the Kim Dae Jung Peace Center, which was founded by her husband to promote inter-Korean reconciliation and world peace.

"I believe we shouldn't pass down the pain of division to future generations."

More than a widow of a former president, late first lady Lee is remembered as a great activist who advanced the values of democracy and women's rights, while pushing the Korean Peninsula an inch closer to peace.
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