Lee O-young, who helped South Korea see magnificence, has died at 88

SEOUL – Well-known and discovered South Korean critic Lee O-young, who served because the nation’s prime minister of tradition, died on February 26 after years of battling most cancers. He was 88 years previous.

Born in Asan, a metropolis in southern Chungcheong province, Lee taught at universities and wrote many articles and books as a literary critic.

Lee first attracted the eye of the nation’s literary circles as an rising critic whereas finding out Korean literature at Seoul Nationwide College. He was promoted to editorial editor of Seoul Shinmun, a South Korean newspaper, when he was about 20 years previous. He has additionally contributed a variety of articles and opinion items to different main journals, together with JoongAng Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo. He based Literature and Thought journal and wrote over 60 books, finally being lauded as “the brightest thoughts in modern Korea”.

His most well-known ebook, “The Compact Tradition: The Japanese Custom of ‘Smaller Is Higher'”, was initially written in Japanese in 1982 whereas Lee was a visiting researcher on the College of Tokyo. Within the ebook, which turned a bestseller in Japan, Lee mentioned {that a} defining characteristic of Japanese tradition is its tendency to like the little issues and attempt to make every little thing smaller. He quoted quick haiku poems, bonsai, orizume bento lunches that arrive packaged in small packing containers and numerous downsized industrial merchandise.

The ebook is taken into account among the best research on Japanese tradition written by a foreigner, together with “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” by the American anthropologist Ruth Benedict.

Lee directed the opening and shutting ceremonies of the 1988 Seoul Olympics to the stage. It was the primary Olympics in 12 years through which Western and Jap bloc athletes have participated because the US-led Western nations boycotted the Video games. Moscow in 1980 and the Soviet-led Jap Bloc took revenge by skipping the Los Angeles Olympics 4 years later. Lee adopted the slogan “past the wall” for ceremonies, a name for an finish to the Chilly Battle, which got here three years later.

In the direction of the top of the opening ceremony, which attracted 70,000 viewers and was televised all over the world, a bit boy ran from one nook of the grass pitch to the other nook as he rolled a metal circle. It was a powerful inventive expression, displaying how South Koreans might admire the great thing about a clean canvas and the way the nation had achieved outstanding financial development, often known as the miracle on the Han River.

In 1990, Lee turned the primary head of the Ministry of Tradition, established by former President Roh Tae-woo. In that capability, Lee led the nation’s political efforts to advertise Korean tradition. His biggest achievement as a minister of tradition was the institution of the Korea Nationwide College of Arts, the nation’s solely nationwide arts college. Lee mentioned current tutorial establishments couldn’t play an efficient function in nurturing inventive expertise and has developed particular research applications for artwork college students.

Former President Kim Dae-jung, in workplace from 1998 to 2003, leveraged Lee’s academic legacy to develop the nation’s content material trade. Claiming that tradition can be a key trade within the twenty first century, Kim based movie and music departments at quite a few universities.

Many administrators, music producers, and actors who’ve gained world audiences have discovered their trades in these departments. The college of the humanities based by Lee laid the academic basis for the world hallyu Korean increase.

South Korea’s rise as a cultural powerhouse with a rising worldwide presence in music, TV exhibits and films could not have been doable with out Lee’s enter.

Over the following a number of years, Lee, as a college professor, continued to suggest new concepts and approaches in quite a lot of areas, together with tradition and historical past. A South Korean reporter who met Lee in his later years says Lee has by no means stopped being considerate and understanding of others, together with younger individuals. “He talked about his ideas and emotions about him with a humorousness,” the reporter mentioned. “No different commentator in South Korea is as versatile and multi-talented as he’s.”

Lee has lengthy maintained his hyperlinks with Japan. He served as honorary president of the College of Nara Prefecture. Nara Gov. Shogo Arai, who beneficial Lee as the primary overseas president of the prefecture college, mentioned, “I want he might have led the prefecture college together with his deep data of historical past and his unparalleled erudition.”

As a member of the Northeast Asia Trilateral Discussion board, an everyday convention of essays involving outstanding figures in politics, enterprise and academia from Japan, China and South Korea, Lee went on to emphasise the significance of peaceable improvement of the three international locations, which in response to him have in frequent cultural backgrounds.

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