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More than 6,000 offer condolences for death of former president

Nearly 8,500 people, including a number of high-profile figures, have visited a hospital in Seoul over two days to offer condolences for the death of former President Kim Young-sam.
  
Kim, an iconic figure of the pro-democracy movement who ended decades of military rule in South Korea during his presidency from 1993 to 1998, passed away Sunday at Seoul National University Hospital. He was 87.
  
Many incumbent and former politicians and government officials, including Lee Hoi-chang who served as prime minster under the Kim administration, mourned his death on Monday.
  
"Kim left a huge step in our country's democracy," a grim-faced Lee told a reporter at the hospital, adding that Kim's legacy will go down in history.
  
Former prime ministers -- Chung Un-chan, Kim Hwang-sik and Chung Hong-won -- all paid their respects at the president's memorial hall.
  
"A giant politician has passed away," Chung said, adding that the former president formed democracy in the country.
  
The widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, Kim Young-sam's successor, also visited the hospital to pay her respects.
  
President Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung -- often known as "two Kims" -- were iconic figures in the country's pro-democracy movement by fighting against military rulers. The two dominated the nation's political landscape for decades.
  
Mark Lippert, the top U.S. envoy in Seoul, also visited the hospital to mourn the death of Kim.
  
Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and the apparent heir of the Samsung business empire, paid his respects at the altar for the late former president as well.
  
Also, more than 16,000 citizens visited 188 altars across the country, including the main one at the National Assembly building, to pay their respects to the late president.
  
The government set up altars across the country as part of a five-day mourning period before holding a state funeral for Kim on Thursday.
  
Kim fought against military rulers for decades and laid the groundwork for a peaceful power transition in a country rife with military coups. (Yonhap)
 

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