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German President Joachim Gauck is the 14th head of state to receive an honorary Seoul citizenship. President Gauck is a civil rights activist who spearheaded the movement to democratize East Germany, and became the first East German to be elected as the president (11th) of the Federal Republic of Germany in March 2012.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany, which took place in 1989. Before awarding President Gauck his honorary Seoul citizenship, Mayor Park Won Soon met with him to talk about Germany’s experience of unification and their experiences in civil rights movements. They also discussed urban policies for sustainable development through the pursuit of unification and harmony.
Mayor Park remarked, “This year marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany,” adding that, “President Gauck’s visit to Seoul will not only strengthen the friendships between Seoul and German cities but also be of great help in establishing the future role of Seoul, as the capital city of the country, in the process of Korean unification.”
Beginning in 1958, the honorary Seoul citizenship program awards honorary citizenship to important foreign guests and foreigners, residing in Seoul for over three consecutive years (or five years in total), and important foreign guests, visiting Seoul. So far, a total of 722 foreigners from 92 countries have become honorary Seoul citizens.