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President CHOI Oe-chool received an honorary doctoral degree recognized by the Cambodian Government N

No.7581646
  • Writer PR team
  • Date : 2023.09.13 13:24
  • Publication Date : 2023.09.04
  • Views : 6521

The first foreigner to receive an honorary doctorate from Western University in Cambodia... Contribution in cultivation of Cambodian talents and national development

A model case for development of developing countries through national cooperation and talent training beyond academic exchanges among universities

Since 2014, as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Cambodia, advisement on major national policies resulting in a strong relationship of trust

A series of love calls to spread the “Saemaul Undong” from the government, legislature, and major organizations

A request to expand the dual degree system to the Department of Computer Engineering and IT-related departments following the Department of Saemaul Economic Development

[September 04, 2023]


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The fact that President CHOI Oe-chool of YU received an honorary doctorate in education from Western University in Cambodia on August 14 is attracting public attention.President CHOI is the first case that an honorary doctorate is awarded to a foreigner at Western University. Especially, a clear merit is required to award a degree in Cambodia as it requires an official approval process from the government (Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports).


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President CHOI was recognized for his contribution in cultivation of Cambodian talent and in national development by supporting the Department of Saemaul Economic Development at Western University. He played a decisive role in helping Korean education and culture, and Saemaul Studies take root in Cambodia. President CHOI, who serves as an advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, has continuously received direct requests from the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly to teach Saemaul Studies and the first fruit of this effort is the Department of Saemaul Economic Development at Western University.YU supported establishment and operation of the Department of Saemaul Economic Development and jointly operates the 2+2 dual degree system at Western University.The first new students were admitted in 2022 and, after attending Western University for two years, they will be transferred to the Department of Saemaul Economic Development at YU in 2024 and study Saemaul Studies in Korea for two years. After graduation, they will get bachelor's degrees simultaneously from Western University and YU.


Especially, there are high expectations for expansion of academic exchanges with YU because the foundation affiliated with Western University is the only educational foundation in Cambodia which operates all educational programs from kindergarten to doctoral programs.In the business discussion between the two universities before the honorary doctorate award ceremony to President CHOI, Western University repeatedly requested to expand the dual degree system to various academic fields such as computer engineering and IT-related departments.


He also played a major role in establishment and execution of Cambodia's national policies.President CHOI has been serving as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Cambodia since 2014 and as a government policy advisor on various projects in the field of Cambodian national development, especially rural development in Cambodia utilizing the Saemaul Undong.And President CHOI supported more than 50 people from the Cambodian government and major institutions for their master's degree courses since he was the first director of YU Park Chung-hee Graduate School of Saemaul (PSPS) that was established in 2011.Students who studied at YU are currently working as high-level policy makers and working-level managers in major government ministries in Cambodia.


On August 14th, a degree award ceremony was held for President CHOI at Western University with attendance of Chairman Te Laurent, President Kieng Rotana, academic affairs committee members, professors, staff, students of the university and public officials from YU Park Chung-hee Graduate School of Saemaul.


Cambodian Vice Minister Touch Visalsok of Education and Youth Education attended the degree award ceremony and personally explained the background of the award of the honorary doctorate.Vice Minister Touch Visalsok said, “The government is evaluating President CHOI Oe-chool’s contribution in the development of Cambodia and I believe that exchanges and cooperation between Western University and YU will greatly contribute in the spread of the Saemaul Undong in Cambodia. The Saemaul Studies dual degree system of both universities is expected to play a mediating role for expansion beyond the cooperation between both universities to the cooperation between both countries.The government will continue to provide support with a sense of responsibility.”


It is indicated how important the role of Korea and YU is for the development of Cambodia.


President CHOI said, “As an educator and Saemaul Studies researcher, I have only made small efforts to cultivate talent in developing countries, including Cambodia, and I am grateful for the honor of receiving the honorary doctorate. I believe that people should be respected and be able to enjoy a humane life regardless of gender, occupation, or income level.We will strive to improve the quality of life of many people around the world who are experiencing difficulties.”


The reason why President CHOI's award of an honorary doctorate is attracting international attention is because it is evaluated as an exemplary case that goes beyond academic exchanges between universities and provides logic for cultivating talents in developing countries and establishing policies for national development.President CHOI established and developed the Saemaul Undong, one of the key driving forces of Korea's development experience, into Saemaul Studies.And, since President Yoon Seok-yeol took office, Korea has significantly expanded its ODA project budget and is actively pursuing related projects.The close exchanges with developing countries that are taking place at the university level are drawing further attention in that they are leading the expansion of policy exchanges between countries.


Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly also welcomed President CHOI’s award of an honorary doctorate. On August 14th, Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly met with President Choi and congratulated him on receiving his degree.Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly, facing Minister Choi, said, “Thank you for serving as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Cambodia for 10 years. I hope that President CHOI and YU will continue in playing a role in the development of Cambodia in the new government led by the new Prime Minister.”

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President Choi has as deep trust with the Cambodian government as having served as an advisor to the Prime Minister for 10 years since 2014. Therefore, they continued to request an advisory role in the recent election of a new prime minister. This is why the relationship between YU and Cambodia is expected to grow even more after President CHOI received an honorary doctorate.


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Love calls are continuing not only from the Cambodian government but also from the legislature and major institutions. On August 16th, Cambodian National Assembly member Suos Yara (Chairman of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee) met President CHOI and actively requested the establishment and operation of Saemaul University in Cambodia. National Assembly member Suos Yara said, “We are building infrastructure, such as constructing a new building, to establish Saemaul University. Support from YU is desperately needed for systematic operation of Saemaul University. I hope YU will serve as an operating and advisory member of Saemaul University”He also visited YU in February of last year and requested that YU plays a role in promoting exchanges between both countries and the development of Cambodia.On August 15th, the day after the degree was awarded, President CHOI met with Sok Silo, Chairman of the Cambodia Development Center (CD Center), and discussed on expansion of Saemaul Undong in Cambodia.Chairman Sok Silo said, “Young people in Cambodia are highly interested in the Saemaul Undong.I hope that YU will expand the Saemaul Undong invitational training.”

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There were also congratulatory messages from prominent domestic figures. Former Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and National Assembly member Yoon Jae-ok, floor leader of the People's Power Party, sent a congratulatory video directly to the graduation ceremony, adding to the meaning of President Choi's award of an honorary doctorate.


President CHOI said, “In the past, Korea made the foundation for economic development by receiving material and institutional support from the international community, including the United Nations. As the result, today, Korea has risen from one of the world's poorest countries to a developed country. I believe that Korea, which has become an advanced country, must step forward to solve common tasks in the international community, especially to overcome poverty in developing countries. We will actively strive to share the educational and research know-how about Saemaul Undong and Korea’s development experience accumulated by YU with the international community at the university level