Seoul, (Agencies): The United States and Japan put pressure on the military-backed government in South Korea in 1980, to prevent the execution of then leading dissident Kim Dae Jung.

US lawmakers pressurised the then President Chun Doo Hwan through resolutions, statements and letters, warning him of sour relations, cutting of exchanges as well as the suspension of economic assistance if Kim, who went on to become South Korea's President, was executed over charges of treason, a document shows.

Japan also pressed the South not to carry out the execution, saying it would put great strain on relations between the two countries. It also warned that an execution could force Tokyo to seek better ties with North Korea.

Kim later became South Korea's President for five years from 1998 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. He died in 2009.

In 1980, Kim and other leading opposition figures were arrested on charges of treason by General Chun Doo Hwan, who imposed Martial Law as he took over the presidency following the assassination of President Park Chung Hee a year earlier.

Kim Dae Jung was sentenced to death for allegedly fomenting a pro-democracy uprising in the southern city Gwangju. But his sentence was commuted to life in prison after the execution order drew international condemnation.