Maryam Mirzakhani of Stanford University on Wednesday became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, known as the Nobel Prize of mathematics.
First awarded in 1936 and then every four years since 1950, the medal goes to between two and four scientists under 40.
The International Mathematical Union is holding its international conference in Seoul until Aug. 21 with 5,000 mathematicians from 120 countries attending.
President Park Geun-hye handed out the medals during a ceremony officiated by IMU head Ingrid Daubechies, its first female leader. According to tradition, the head of the country hosting the international conference awards the Fields Medal.
She also handed medals to Artur Avila, the first winner with a doctoral degree from outside the U.S. or Europe, Manjul Bhargava, a professor at Princeton University, and Martin Hairer from Britain's Warwick University.
Avila got his doctorate in Brazil in 2001.