Bob Ramsey (SLLC) honored by South Korean Prime Minister
Bob Ramsey, a professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures), University of Maryland, visited South Korea to receive The Medal of the Order of Cultural Merit from the Prime Minister. The ceremony was widely covered in the South Korean media which cited his recent co-edited History of the Korean Language and his work on Korean going back to the 1970s. The Korean Embassy in Washington honored Ramsey on Oct 25. Below is part of his description of the event. Congratulations to Bob on this major honor.
“I must admit I knew the award was significant, but I had no idea the presentation would be part of such a big occasion. As it happened, and I guess this may possibly have been just luck, the award was part of the ceremony on the 9th to celebrate the return of Hangul Day to the full status of national holiday (from something like Columbus Day maybe to something like Thanksgiving, with all businesses and offices closed for the celebration), and the government decided to go all out. The central celebrations were held in the Sejong Center (for the Performing Arts), with the hall filled by thousands there by invitation only. To get in we were ushered past a phalanx of hundreds of soldiers and police, with the ID of each person going in checked electronically against the list of invitees. And then the entire occasion, complete with K-pop performances, choruses, dancing, orations and readings, the singing of the national anthem of course – all manner of stuff like that – was broadcast live nationwide on all major television channels. Whew. There were several awards. The first was a posthumous one given to a major Korean scholar and accepted by his son. The next was the medal given to me. Those awards were followed by three or four lesser ones (but no medals) given to both Koreans and non-Korean Asians. But I was the only Westerner who was part of the celebrations. (I had to laugh when people who saw the program on TV told me the camera stayed on me during the singing of the national anthem – they didn’t know I was reading the lyrics of all three verses off a teleprompter.) The afternoon before the celebrations I did a radio interview in English. Then, after the official ceremonies on the day itself, the 9th, and a formal banquet (with speeches), I was taken over to a television studio for another interview on a news program, this time live and in Korean.”