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Lee O-young, who helped South Korea see beauty, dies at 88

Nation's first culture minister laid groundwork for today's hallyu Korean boom

Lee O-young speaks at the 4th Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum in Busan in April 2009. Lee wrote more than 60 books, including a Japanese bestseller, "The Compact Culture: The Japanese Tradition of 'Smaller Is Better.'" (Photo by Yoshiyuki Tamai)

SEOUL -- Celebrated and erudite South Korean critic Lee O-young, who served as the country's first culture minister, died on Feb. 26 after years of fighting cancer. He was 88.

A native of Asan, a city in South Chungcheong Province, Lee taught at universities and authored many articles and books as a literary critic.

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