SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-pil, the founder of South Korea’s spy agency whose political skills also helped him serve twice as prime minister, first under his dictator boss and later under a man his agency kidnapped, has died. He was 92.

Kim was declared dead on arrival at Seoul’s Soonchunhyang University Hospital from his home Saturday, hospital official Lee Mi-jong said. He described the cause of death as age-related complications.

Kim Jong-pil

South Korea’s presidential office released a statement saying Kim’s “fingerprints and footprints that marked South Korea’s modern political history will not be easily erased.”

A retired lieutenant colonel, Kim was a key member of a 1961 coup that put army Maj. Gen. Park Chung-hee in power until his 1979 assassination. Park was the father of Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president, who was ousted from office last year over an explosive corruption scandal and is now serving a 24-year prison term.

After the senior Park seized power, Kim created and headed the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, a predecessor of the current National Intelligence Service, before serving as his prime minister, the country’s No. 2 post, from 1971 to 1975.

Park Chung-hee used the spy agency as a tool to suppress his political rivals at home, including then-opposition leader Kim Dae-jung, who became South Korea’s president in the late 1990s.

A government fact-finding panel said in 2007 that KCIA agents kidnapped Kim Dae-jung from a Tokyo hotel in 1973, days before he was to start a coalition of Japan-based South Korean organizations to work for their country’s democratization.

It was the first official confirmation of one of the most notorious KCIA operations to stifle dissent.

Kim Jong-pil didn’t direct the agency at the time of the 1973 kidnapping, and 25 years later he joined forces with Kim Dae-jung and helped him win the 1997 presidential election. He served as Kim Dae-jung’s prime minister from 1998 to 2000 under a power-sharing plan.

The 2007 panel report did not draw a clear conclusion on whether the kidnapping was ultimately aimed at killing Kim Dae-jung, who said his abductors nearly dumped him from a ship at sea before they stopped when a U.S. military helicopter made a low pass over the vessel.

Related to Park by marriage, Kim Jong-pil was his No. 2 man for much of his rule. But after Park was gunned down by his intelligence chief during a late-night drinking party in October 1979 and a new military junta led by Maj. Gen. Chun Doo-hwan seized power through a coup, Kim was accused of corruption and surrendered property worth millions of dollars before moving to the United States.

Kim returned to South Korea after Chun, bowing to weeks of massive public protests, allowed a free, direct presidential election in 1987, which marked South Korea’s transition toward a genuine democracy.

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