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Late Singaporean PM Lee Kuan Yew's special relationship with Korea Updated: 2015-03-30 06:32:31 KST


1979 was the year Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew first visited South Korea for a summit with then President Park Chung-hee.
It's also when he met President Park Geun-hye.
She was 22 and the acting First Lady.
Since then, Lee made a total of six visits to Korea, meeting nearly all the Korean presidents that followed.

An eyewitness to Korea's rapid industrial and agricultural developments, Singapore's founding father spoke highly of President Park Chung-hee's rural development policies.
And the admiration was not one-sided.
Former President Lee Myung-bak said he was inspired by Lee Kuan Yew's business philosophy, even before his Cheong Wa Dae years.
But Korean leaders did not always see eye-to-eye with the former prime minister.
Once Lee had a heated debate over the political ideology of "Asian values" -- while he focused on culture, late Korean leader Kim Dae-jung championed democracy.
At times, Lee unabashedly criticized Korea's conglomerate-focused economy.


"With only two percent of asset holdings, families of Korea's top 30 Chaebols have been able to control 3-hundred-and-thirty-one trillion in assets. Fully controlled management of investment is unjust. It's wrong."

Differences aside, Lee Kuan Yew always remained a friend, nurturing diplomatic and economic cooperation between Korea and Singapore over the years.
Korean leaders say he's the driving force behind close bilateral ties, to this day.
Kwon Soa, Arirang News.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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