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(LEAD) U.S. ambassador becomes honorary citizen of Seoul

2014/07/31 13:29

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- Sung Kim, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to South Korea, received an honorary citizenship of Seoul on Thursday for his contribution to the nation's capital.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon awarded Kim an honorary citizenship certificate in a ceremony and asked him for his continued interest in the city and cooperation.

"Time flies so quickly. I must say I'm sad you have to return to your country," Park said in his congratulatory remarks.

"Even after you leave Korea for your next post, I ask of you that, as an honorary citizen of Seoul, you continue to have special interests in and affection for the city of Seoul and for Korea."

   Kim, who attended the ceremony with his family, replied by saying that Seoul has always been one of his favorite cities.

"It is after all my city of birth and the place I have always considered to be my second home," he said.

Sung Kim (R), the outgoing U.S. ambassador to South Korea, holds up a certificate of honorary Seoul citizenship with Mayor Park Won-soon at a ceremony on July 31, 2014. (Yonhap)

Sung Kim (R), the outgoing U.S. ambassador to South Korea, holds up a certificate of honorary Seoul citizenship with Mayor Park Won-soon at a ceremony on July 31, 2014. (Yonhap)

He added that one of his favorite activities has been to go on walks with his family after work to enjoy Korea's traditional architecture alongside the modern skyline of Seoul.

"As you can imagine, it will be hard for me and my family to leave Seoul," he said. "No matter where I am, I know this honorary citizenship will keep me connected to this great city. And I promise I will come back."

   Born in South Korea, Kim moved to the U.S. in the 1970s and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1980 and the first Korean-American ambassador to Seoul in November 2011. He is widely expected to leave his post in late August and replace Glyn Davies as Washington's special representative on North Korea policy.

The career diplomat has been acclaimed for his balanced approach to various issues relating to the two allies, including the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, the North Korean nuclear crisis and other issues pertaining to unification and human rights.

Seoul awards honorary citizenships to foreigners who make significant contributions to the city.

Past recipients include Wei Hong, governor of China's Sichuan province, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, former South Korean national soccer team coach Guus Hiddink and American football player Hines Ward.

sojungpark@yna.co.kr

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