Academic nets top German honor

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Academic nets top German honor

Keimyung University President Synn Il-hi became the latest Korean to receive the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on July 21 for his contributions to enhancing the relationship between Korea and Germany.

The award was presented by Hans-Ulrich Seidt, the German Ambassador to Korea, on behalf of German President Christian Wulff. It honored Synn’s efforts to promote cultural exchange between the two countries, as well as his work to improve bilateral ties through a number of organizations that he is affiliated with.

Synn set a new milestone 10 years ago when he became the first Korean member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of German Language and Literature, a post he has used to help promulgate Korea’s literary heritage in Europe.

The German Commander’s Cross, the country’s top state decoration, was created by former President Theodor Heuss in 1951. It is traditionally awarded to those who make great academic contributions or improve relations with Germany.

Former Korean President Kim Dae-jung, Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan and Paik Young-hoon, president of the Korea Industrial Development Institute, have all received the prestigious accolade.

Synn, who earned a doctorate in German literature from Princeton after winning a scholarship to study at Heidelberg University, took over the stewardship of Keimyung in 1978. He later set up the school’s German language department and has also served at other renowned universities in Germany, the U.S. and Korea.

He is recognized for functioning as a “civilian diplomat promoting intercultural understanding among people and as a devoted humanitarian caring for people beyond race and ideology,” according to the German Embassy in Korea.

“I am honored to be awarded the German Commander’s Cross. I will not forget the goodwill of the German government and its people and [I will] continue my efforts to enhance relations between the two countries,” Synn said at the awards ceremony.


By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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