Korean philanthropist Um Hong Gil gets honorary citizenship

Kathmandu, January 13

The Government of Nepal has obliged a renowned South Korean climber with citizenship.

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota provided the honorary citizenship certificate to South Korean philanthropist Um Hong Gil amidst a function here last evening.

Baskota said Um Hong Gil was given the certificate as per a Cabinet decision taken on November 15. Um Hong Gil, who has been visiting Nepal for the last 36 years, thanked the government and all Nepalis for awarding him the citizenship certificate. “Nepal is my second home and receiving the honorary citizenship is one of the rare moments of my life,” he said.

After establishing the Um Hong Gil Human Foundation in 2009, 15 model schools have been built in 12 districts. “Two more school buildings are being built in Kathmandu,” he added. The foundation is committed to serving the needy people of Nepal, said Um Hong Gil, who is also a goodwill ambassador for Visit Nepal 2020.

UHGHF constructed school buildings for Pangboche Basic School in Solukhumbu, Bindu Keshar Basic School and Kalleri Secondary School of Dhading, Siddhartha Gautam Buddha Basic School and Sundi Secondary School in Rupandehi, Birethanti Secondary School in Kaski, Kali Janajyoti National Basic School in Dhanusha and Sarbodaya Secondary School in Myagdi. The foundation also built buildings for Mukta Kamaiya Basic School in Bardiya, Mayam Secondary School in Taplejung, Bhagawati Basic School in Gorkha, Ajad Secondary School in Kavre and Jana Kalyan Secondary School in Rolpa.

Um Hong Gil has made 16 successful ascents of mountains above 8,000 metres, including three ascents of Mt Everest. Um first climbed Mt Everest in 1985.

UHGHF also introduced Himalaya Scholarship Programme. Under this programme, children of those mountaineers who lost their lives in the course of mountain climbing, get stipend to support their education.

Besides, UHGHF has also provided millions of rupees to the Mt Everest region to build educational, health and cultural sites, according to Lee Jae Hoo, chairman of the foundation. “With the help of the foundation, Mountain Medicine Institute (Namche Clinic) was also built to support local communities and tourists visiting Solukhumbu region,” he said, adding that the foundation also provided support to rebuild monasteries that were damaged in the 2015 earthquakes, in Khumbu region.

South Korean Ambassador to Nepal Park Young-sik said Um Hong Gil’s contribution had further strengthened Nepal-Korea relations. “It’s not an honour only to Um Hong Gil but a moment of pride for all South Koreans,” the envoy stated.

Former education minister and the foundation’s adviser Ganga Lal Tuladhar thanked Um Hong Gil for his support in improving education and health quality in Nepal.

After the government made the provision of providing honorary citizenship to persons of international stature in its Citizenship Act-2006, the government had provided its first honorary citizenship to Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand, who made a name for himself by becoming the first person ever to climb the tallest mountain in the world, Mt Everest.

The government has also given an honorary citizenship certificate to British national Collin Philip Smith, popularly known as Putali Baje, who spent a long time in researching butterflies in Nepal, a couple of weeks ago. Um is the third foreigner being obliged with this honour, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.