Dignitaries and winners of the 11th Korea Multicultural Youth Awards pose after the prize ceremony at the Korea Press Center in Seoul, Monday. Among the dignitaries were, fourth from left in the back row Minister of Gender Equality and Family Kim Hyun-sook, fourth from right in the back row Ambassador of the Philippines to Korea Maria Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega and third from right in the back row Charge d'Affaires of Colombia to Korea Francisco Alberto Gonzalez. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
By Lee Hyo-jin
Eleven talented students from diverse backgrounds and one teacher were recognized for their achievements and exemplary deeds at the 11th Korea Multicultural Youth Awards ceremony, Monday.
The awards, given by The Korea Times, are aimed at encouraging students from multicultural backgrounds, who at times experience hardships due to cultural or language barriers.
The ceremony, held at the Korea Press Center in Seoul, was attended by awardees and their family members, as well as Gender Equality and Family Minister Kim Hyun-sook, the judges and representatives of the sponsors including Seong Sang-hwan, head of the Korean Association for Multicultural Education.
Ambassador of the Philippines to Korea Maria Theresa Dizon-De Vega and Charge d'affaires of Colombia to Korea Francisco Alberto Gonzalez also attended the event.
Gender Equality and Family Minister Kim Hyun-sook poses with Jennifer Lee, the grand prize winner and a sixth grader at Sangtap Elementary School in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
The grand prize, presented by the gender equality and family minister, went to Jennifer Lee, a sixth grader at Sangtap Elementary School in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. Born to a Mexican mother and a Korean father, Lee was recognized for her multilingual skills in Korean, Spanish, English and German, as well as her passion for sports.
"I am thankful to my family for always being there to support me. Along with many other children from multicultural backgrounds, I will not give up pursuing my dreams. I want to grow up as an adult who can contribute to our society," she said in her acceptance speech.
Grand prize winner Jennifer Lee delivers her acceptance speech during the 11th Korea Multicultural Youth Awards held at the Korea Press Center, Monday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo delivered his congratulatory remarks via video.
"As we enter an era where 1.1 million multicultural households are living across the country, Korea has already become a nation where diverse cultures and ethnicity coexist. As seen by the rising global popularity of K-content (Korean content), boundaries in cross-national borders, races and languages are becoming increasingly meaningless," he said.
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo delivers his congratulatory remarks in a video message. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
Han stressed that the government will step up efforts to actively support children so that the future generation can grow up as global citizens equipped with inclusivity and openness
The gender equality and family minister highlighted the growing importance of children of multicultural backgrounds, who contribute to making Korea a more diverse society.
"When I met multicultural families during my visit to a family support center, they asked for support in education and career planning above all," Kim said. "And reflecting such policy demands, our ministry is strengthening tailored support for multicultural families," she added.
Oh Young-jin, president-publisher of The Korea Times, expressed gratitude to the family ministry and judges who contributed to the annual ceremony for the past decade since its establishment in 2012.
Oh Young-jin, president-publisher of The Korea Times, delivers his opening remarks during the 11th Korea Multicultural Youth Awards ceremony at the Korea Press Center, Seoul, Monday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
"Multiculturalism in Korea is not a matter of choice, but a matter of survival. Korea, as it is, is heading toward greater multiculturalism. I believe that the recipients of today's awards will be the future leaders who will make the country stronger based on their diverse cultural backgrounds," he said.
Kim Joon-sik, honorary chairman of Asian Friends and who headed the juries, said, "I was pleased to see that children from multicultural backgrounds are growing up healthy, studying hard, showing exemplary deeds in and outside of school."
Cui Yun-zhi, a sixth grader at Yangji Elementary School in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, and Gina Kim Mandigo, a second grader at Gyeokdong Elementary School in Ulsan, were selected as outstanding students in the elementary school category.
In the middle school category, Jairo Andres Ramiez Cruz from Hongik Middle School in Seoul, and Kwon Ji-ae from Woonam Middle School in Osan, Gyeonggi Province, were selected as winners.