TOPJapan and South Korea join in recognizing the sacrifice of Korean student

Japan and South Korea join in recognizing the sacrifice of Korean student

By Alec Jordan

A Korean student who died in 2001 after saving a Japanese man from a fast-approaching train was given strong praise by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Geun-hye Park.

Lee Su-hyon, who was studying at a Japanese language school at the time, jumped down from the platform at JR Shin-Okubo Station after the drunken man fell onto the tracks. Lee and another Japanese man who assisted the intoxicated man were killed by a train. Lee was 26.

Twelve years after his death, a ceremony was held Thursday on the platform where he gave up his life for a stranger. A barrier has been set up in September to prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks. Lee’s parents said the barriers came 12 years too late but said they would save more lives.

The two leaders seemingly set aside their nations’ differences to applaud Lee’s “noble sacrifice” and an annual scholarship program for Asian students funded by Lee’s parents.

People from across Japan and all over the world sent condolence money to Lee’s parents after their tragic loss, which they in turn used to provide financial aid to foreign students from Asia.

Abe expressed his sincere wish that Lee’s spirit of altruism and courage will continue to be passed down to future generations.

“I find it very meaningful that his scholarship program has encouraged many exchange students who want to become an ‘international bridge’ to study hard and laid the important foundation of friendship between Japan and South Korea,” Abe said in a statement released at the ceremony.

Park praised the student for his heroism. “We should once again remember his heroic deeds and I wish from the bottom of my heart that Asian nations, including Japan and South Korea, will further mature their friendship in the future,” she said.

So far 640 students have benefited from the program. This year, 50 students from countries such as Nepal were given 100,000 yen each.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: pinwheel/Flickr