The Korea Herald


S. Korean captain Seok Hae-kyun receives maritime award for bravery

By 양승진

Published : July 3, 2011 - 19:04

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South Korean ship captain Seok Hae-kyun, who was rescued from Somali hijackers earlier this year, was picked as the recipient of an international maritime award in recognition of his bravery during the harrowing event, Seoul’s maritime affairs ministry said Sunday.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has decided to give this year’s “Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea” to Seok Hae-kyun, the 58-year-old skipper of the 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry, for his courage and efforts to save his sailors and to prevent possible damage during a rescue operation by South Korean naval special forces on Jan. 21, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

The presenting ceremony will be held at the IMO headquarters in London in November, the ministry added.
                                                                Seok Hae-kyun                                                                 Seok Hae-kyun

Seok has been recovering from serious gunshot wounds that he sustained during the rescue operation.

The annual award, established in 2007, is given to those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery and display outstanding courage in attempting to save lives at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment.

In the Jan. 21 operation, the commandos stormed the chemical carrier that had been seized by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea, killing eight of the 13 hijackers and rescuing all 21 crew members alive. The five remaining pirates were brought to South Korea to stand trial in the country’s first legal case against piracy. The leader of the pirates was sentenced to life in prison for shooting the captain and hijacking the ship, and the four others received prison terms. They pleaded not guilty and appealed the sentences. 

(Yonhap News)