Korea makes award for loyal American friends

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Korea makes award for loyal American friends

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Korea-U.S. alliance, the Korean Ministry of National Defense has created an award to recognize American officials who have helped strengthen the military bond between the two countries.

The Defense Ministry said yesterday that the award, co-sponsored by the JoongAng Ilbo, was created because even though the partnership has been in place for six decades, there has never been a program in place for recognizing distinguished U.S. officials.

The Paik Sun-yup Korea-U.S. Alliance Award is named after Korea’s first four-star general. Now 92 years old, Paik is the oldest living Korean general from the 1950-53 Korean War, and is recognized as a hero both at home and abroad. Retired U.S. four-star general and former Commander of United Nations Command Walter Sharp has emphasized the respect he feels for Paik, calling him a patriot.

“The award was established to raise the significance of the Korea-U.S. alliance and to express our thanks to the United States” for the protection of Korea, a senior defense official said.

The award will be presented annually in September, beginning with this year’s ceremony on Sept. 30, the ministry said.

A selection committee comprised of senior officials from the Combined Forces Command, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, the U.S. Army and the Defense Ministry will select this year’s recipient next Wednesday.

With this year’s anniversary, the committee is expected to recognize a high-ranking military leader or a veteran of the Korean War. The award will include travel expenses for the recipient and their spouse to the presentation ceremony and a cash prize.

The Defense Ministry is organizing a string of events over the next three months to commemorate the alliance, including concerts, a marathon and seminars to reaffirm the bilateral friendship.

The Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in the aftermath of the Korean War on Oct. 1, 1953.

BY SARAH KIM, JEONG YONG-SOO [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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