Korean popera singer Lim Hyung-joo, 24, became the first Korean and youngest ever recipient of the United Nations Peace Medal on Tuesday (local time) at UN headquarters in New York.
The award was partly in recognition of Lim's donation of $20,000 to a scholarship fund for descendants of Korean War veterans from 17 countries. The money was the entire proceeds from a solo concert commemorating the 60th anniversary of the war, held on Sunday in New York's Carnegie Hall with special sponsorship from the UN. He earned a majority of votes for the medal, a UN official said.
"I had heard from the UN that I was one of the candidates for the medal a couple of months ago," Lim said. "As the youngest candidate ever, I was grateful and thrilled just to be nominated."
He added, "I wasn't expecting to receive it at all, but when I heard the news just before I left Korea for the concert, I was extremely happy and thankful as I know what a big honor it is."
The Peace Medal is awarded to individuals who contribute to world peace and human rights around the globe. Winners are determined through a vote by ambassadors to the UN and other representatives.
Along with the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, it is one of the most prestigious awards for human rights in the world. Previous recipients include Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley, South African singer Miriam Makeba, and Indian spiritual leader Dadi Prakashmani.
Meanwhile, Lim is currently staying in New York to prepare for the release next week of his new album "Miracle History," in celebration of the seventh anniversary of his worldwide debut, as well as a year-end concert to be held at COEX in Seoul on Dec. 28.