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(LEAD) Ex-intelligence chief who brokered inter-Korean accord dies

All Headlines 15:09 October 31, 2009

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; RECASTS headline)

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) -- Lee Hu-rak, former head of South Korea's state intelligence agency known for a secret trip to North Korea in 1972 to broker a historic inter-Korean agreement, died Saturday of age-related causes, his family said. He was 85.

Lee, the right-hand man of late former President Park Chung-hee, served as director of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency from 1970-1973. He was notorious for oppressing dissidents against Park's iron-fisted rule. Park seized power through a coup in 1961 and ruled the country until 1979 when he was assassinated by another close confidant.

Lee secretly traveled to Pyongyang in 1972, where he met then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung to pave the way for a landmark inter-Korean agreement on the principles for reunification, named the "July 4 South-North Joint Communique."

Lee was elected to parliament in 1979 but was prohibited from political activity the following year on corruption charges as a new military junta took power following Park's death. He was freed from the restriction in 1985 but stayed out of politics until his death.

Lee was admitted to a Seoul hospital in May where he received treatment for his illness that worsened recently, according to hospital officials.

He is survived by four sons and one daughter.

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