Thousands of mourners have gathered in Seoul to say their final farewells to late former President Kim Young-sam, whose landmark 1992 election victory ended decades of military rule.

A state funeral began Thursday at the lawn outside Parliament, where Kim was sworn in as South Korea's president in early 1993 for a five-year term. Kim died on Sunday at 87.

Kim was a towering figure in South Korean politics, leading fights against dictators from the 1960s through the 1980s.

As president, Kim reshuffled top military generals loyal to past dictators, brought transparency to the country's murky financial system and took other reform measures.

His reputation was undermined after his government accepted an international bailout during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.