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(LEAD) Former President Kim Dae-jung put on respirator but stable: hospital

All Headlines 17:06 July 16, 2009

(ATTN: ADDS comments from hospital officials in paras 3-5, 7, CORRECTS hospital's name in para 2)

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- Former President Kim Dae-jung was put on a respirator due to irregular breathing but is not in a critical condition, hospital officials said Thursday.

"He became short of breath on Wednesday night and was put on a respirator around 3 a.m. this morning," Park Chang-il, chief of Severance Hospital in Seoul, told reporters at a briefing. "His condition has improved since. He is conscious, and his pulse, breathing and body temperature are normal."

"The respirator is not for extending his life. It's for treatment," Choi Kyung-deuk, a hospital spokesman, said.

"He has no complications, but has been receiving kidney dialysis for a long time" Park added.

He said Kim was being fed through a feeding tube.

Kim, who served as president between 1998 and 2003, was hospitalized on Monday and transferred to the intensive care unit after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

"He is being given tranquilizers for comfort. We will be able to remove the respirator once his condition improves," Park said. "It's difficult to immediately predict what the condition will be. We will be monitoring closely for the next few days."

Kim was hospitalized once before in 2005 after showing symptoms of a cold and a fever.

The 85-year-old former president, a life-long opposition leader, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 after holding the first-ever inter-Korean summit that year.


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