Seoul's honorary citizens include suicide savior
Justin John Harvey, a TV personality from South Africa, became an honorary citizen of Seoul on Wednesday along with eight other foreign nationals in acknowledgement of contributions to the city.
Harvey, 31, earned his honorary citizenship after rescuing a Korean national who attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge near Yeouido Han River Park two years ago. Harvey was on a walk with his mother.
Harvey is familiar to the Korean public from his guest appearances on MBC every1’s reality show “First Time in Korea? Welcome.”
The annual Seoul Honorary Citizenship Ceremony took place at Seoul City Hall in Jung District, central Seoul. In adherence to Covid-19 regulations, the event was livestreamed on the Seoul government’s website and only a few people attended in-person.
Dr. Sushant Sahastrabuddhe from India was granted honorary citizen as the longest-serving foreign national at the International Vaccine Institute, an international organization headquartered in Seoul. He has spearheaded Covid-19 vaccine development with Korean manufactures.
Professional pansori singer Mafo Laure, 37, from France was honored for promoting pansori in Europe and Africa. Pansori is a traditional Korean genre of music involving a singer and a drummer, which narrates a story.
After encountering the genre at the Korean cultural center in Paris in 2015, Mafo quit her job at Samsung Electronics' Paris branch and came to Korea to study pansori.
She performed for President Moon Jae-in and President Emmanuel Macron during a banquet at the Blue House in 2018. Mafo has also appeared on television shows including “My neighbor Charles” on KBS.
Other foreign nationals who were made honorary citizens included Shiwakoti Nabaraj from Nepal; Boes Marin Anne K from Belgium; Kalimullin Iskandder Faritovich from Uzbekistan; Quan Min from China; Boqiev Ahrorjon from Tajikistan; and Berard Christophe from France.
Honorary citizens are given opportunities to attend events organized by the city government. They are also granted free entrance to the Seoul Museum of Art in Jung District, central Seoul, Seoul Museum of History in Jongno District, central Seoul, Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, and special exhibitions at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Jung District, central Seoul.
The Seoul honorary citizenship program began in 1958 for foreign nationals in Korea who helped to build the city.
Today, there are 891 foreign nationals from over 100 different countries who have been named honorary citizens of Seoul.
BY JANG JOO YOUNG, LEE JIAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]