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South Korean president wins Nobel Peace Prize

Kim Dae-Jung
Kim Dae-jung hailed for forging warmer ties with North Korea  

OSLO, Norway -- South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has won the first Nobel Peace Prize of the 21st century.

The man sometimes called "the Nelson Mandela of Asia" was chosen from a record 150 nominees, including the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Yugoslav peace mediators.

The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the laureate in Oslo on Friday morning.

Kim won the prestigious award for his push for warmer ties with his country's Stalinist neighbor North Korea across the final frontier of the Cold War.

CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae has reaction from South Korea

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The Nobel Prize
  •  Peace: South Korea's Kim Dae-jung
  •  Literature: Surviving 'the history of the masses'
  •  Economics: Statistical analysis
  •  Chemistry: TV research
  •  Physics: IT work
  •  Medicine: Brain research


He has made improved relations with the North one of the main planks of his presidency since he took office in 1998 at the age of 72.

Kim and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il held a historic summit in the North Korean capital Pyongyang in June. It was the first meeting of the leaders of the two countries since the end of the Korean War.

Kim -- also known as D.J. -- suffered repeated arrests and beatings during his decades-long struggle and spent time in exile in the U.S.

He became South Korea's president only after losing three previous election bids and coming out of retirement.

The prize, to be handed over in Oslo on December 10, comprises a gold medal, a diploma and a check for nine million Swedish crowns ($908,300).

Some observers have said it is premature to give the honour to Kim. Others feel North Korea could feel offended that the award has gone only to the South Korean leader.

But that committee has given the prize to only one side on previous occasions and it has a record of rewarding fledgling peace processes -- even if there are dangers they will collapse.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat shared the 1994 peace prize with late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and former Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for their Middle East peace accords.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Nobel Prize Winners

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