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May 24, 2017

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Suu Kyi issues call for 'more human' democracy

SEOUL -- Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi called Friday for democracy with a "more human" face, arguing that technological development and economic wealth were no guarantee of a free and harmonious society.

Speaking to students after receiving an honorary doctorate from Seoul National University, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate said it was up to the younger generation to ensure that development brought peace not strife.

"I'd like to talk about democracy with a more human face, with a kinder face, with a more responsible face — a democracy that is really meant to nurture people, not to help us get ahead on the road to material development," she said.

"The kind of nation I'd like to see my country turn out to be is one which emphasizes some of the human values which seem to me to have been lost along the way to economic development.

"Compassion, kindness and harmony" are "absolutely necessary for our world today," she added.

Her comments are likely to resonate in South Korea where rapid economic development has resulted in a hyper competitive, high-stress society and widening income gaps.

Suu Kyi arrived in Seoul on Monday on her first ever visit to South Korea.

As well as meetings with outgoing President Lee Myung-bak and his successor Park Geun-hye, she was guest of honor at the opening of the Special Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

On Thursday night she had a special dinner with a host of South Korean soap opera stars, one of whom she had personally invited because of his resemblance to her assassinated father.

Ahn Jae-wook, a popular singer and actor, starred in the 1997 TV drama "Star in My Heart," which was a big hit in Myanmar.

"She told me 'you look just like my father. He was very handsome'," Ahn told the Yonhap News Agency after the event.

"She said she had an opportunity to see my drama and was surprised to find that my smile resembled her father very much," Ahn said.

Suu Kyi's father, Myanmar liberation hero General Aung San, was assassinated along with eight other independence leaders on July 19, 1947.

Also at Thursday's dinner were Lee Young-ae, Song Il-kook and Kim Hyo-jin — all well known for their roles in dramas that South Korea has successfully exported to China, Japan, Southeast Asia and beyond.

During her visit, which began Monday, the democracy leader met with outgoing President Lee Myung-bak and his successor Park Geun-hye, and was guest of honor at the opening of the Special Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

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