Lee Hak, who was Yong In University’s then-president, offered a certificate of honorary doctorate degree to Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 21, 2010, in an office located in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Yong In University)
Amid the global shock waves from Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, calls are growing for South Korea’s Yong In University in Gyeonggi Province to cancel the honorary doctorate it had granted to Russian President Vladimir Putin more than a decade ago, according to sources Sunday.
On Sept. 21, 2010, Putin received an honorary doctorate in judo from the college, which has gained global recognition since its establishment in 1953 for its martial arts program that has trained world-class judokas.
The honorary degree was conferred to acknowledge “Putin’s continued efforts to promote sports exchanges between Korea and Russia as well as to contribute to the peace of the world and international sportsdom,” according to the university.
During the degree awarding ceremony in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Russian president said, “Judo is one of the most popular sports and I know that Korea is traditionally strong in in judo. I am very pleased to receive an honorary doctorate from a famous university whose students have won a lot of medals at the Olympic Games,” it added.
Putin, who started practicing the martial art when he was 11 years old, is well-known for his lifelong love of judo. He even wrote an instructional book about the martial art called “The Art of Judo.”
Following Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, a growing number of Korean internet users have raised questions over whether Putin is an appropriate recipient for an honorary doctorate.
A screenshot of a post uploaded on an online community, which calls on Yong In University to revoke Putin’s honorary degree in judo at Yong In University. (Naver)
“According to Yong In University’s internal regulations, the school can rescind honorary degrees of those who committed dishonorable actions. Putin terrified the world with the horrors of war. The university should review the matter seriously,” a 29-year-old graduate of the school surnamed Jung said.
Another student from Yong In University, who majored in judo, also voiced against Putin’s honorary doctorate degree, citing the judo spirit.
“One of the major tenets of judo is that the soft overcomes the hard, which warns against one’s excessive use of power in a game of judo. Russia’s ongoing invasion on Ukraine reportedly resulted in civilian casualties. I feel ashamed that my school bestowed an honorary degree to such warmonger,” he said.
By Choi Jae-hee (email@example.com