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[Newsmaker] Former Prime Minister Nam dies at 89

Nam Duck-woo. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Nam Duck-woo. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Nam Duck-woo, a former prime minister and finance minister who led the country’s economic modernization in the 1970s, died on Saturday night.

The 89-year-old former official had suffered complications from prostate cancer, which had worsened due to old age, his family said.

Dubbed “Korea’s economic president,” Nam is widely recognized for his key role in the country’s remarkable economic development, especially under the rule of former President Park Chung-hee, the father of President Park Geun-hye.

It was under his leadership that Korea exceeded $10 billion in exports and $1,000 in per capita income in the late 1970s. He also introduced value-added tax and decided to promote the heavy industries as a state project.

The Sogang University economic professor first joined the Cabinet as finance minister in 1969 upon the direct orders of former President Park.

The former dictator is said to have liked Nam’s uncompromising attitude and forthright comments over the government’s long-term economic development plan.

Nam also worked as deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs in 1974-1978 and as prime minister under former President Chun Doo-hwan in 1980-1982.

After retiring from his ministerial post, he served as the head of the Korea International Trade Association from 1983 to 1991.

The senior economist also exerted his influence on President Park Geun-hye, by taking the post as Park’s chief economic adviser in 2007 during the presidential election campaigning season.

He once again came into the public’s attention in March when he sat right next to the newly-inaugurated president on the advisory council of elder statesmen.

After the funeral ceremony on Wednesday, Nam’s body will be buried at the Seoul National Cemetery. His funeral is to be officiated by KITA chairman Han Duck-soo and former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo.

By Bae Hyun-jung (