Lee Choung-bum, founder of the Junghae Welfare Association in Seoul, received a friendship medal from the Vietnamese government on Saturday for promoting bilateral relations between South Korea and Vietnam, the association said.
The medal is conferred to a foreigner or a group of foreigners who have contributed greatly to friendship between the two countries.
The 57-year-old attorney and other like-minded Koreans opened Junghae Vocational School, the predecessor of Thu Duc College of Technology, in Ho Chi Minh City in 1996. The school has provided technical training to Korean-Vietnamese, war orphans and physically handicapped or underprivileged juveniles.
The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh awarded an education medal to Lee in July 1999, in a show of gratitude for his humanitarian activities and promotion of civilian exchanges in Vietnam.
On Feb. 28, 2000, he became the first South Korean civilian to have been awarded by the Vietnamese government with the highest education order.
“I thank the Vietnamese government and people for conferring a friendship medal on me. I am pushing a project to establish the Korean Center in Thu Duc College of Technology with the help of the Korea International Cooperation Agency to further spread the Korean language and culture in Vietnam as well as strengthen friendship between the two countries.”
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)