Korea, the Republic of
Lawyer, politician, former Prime Minister of South Korea
DAAD Scholarship 1978–1979
The roots to Kim Hwang-sik’s close ties with Germany extend back to his school days. Like most of his fellow students at secondary school, he chose German as his second foreign language after English. And his interest also continued unbroken after leaving school. Beyond the language itself, he learnt a lot about the country's history, culture and art. Then, in 1978, a dream came true for him. A DAAD scholarship enabled him to complete a period of study in Germany. He then spent a year studying law at the University of Marburg.
It was during my stay in Germany that I heard of the 'Wunder am Rhein' (Miracle on the Rhine), for Germany was a country that had succeeded in reaching reconciliation with its neighbouring countries.
Before his study visit, Kim Hwang-sik, who was born in Jangseong in 1948, had already completed his law studies at Seoul National University in South Korea and taken on the position of judge. In Marburg, his interest focused mainly on German civil law and on the country and its people: "It was during my stay in Germany that I heard of the 'Wunder am Rhein' (Miracle on the Rhine), for Germany was a country that had succeeded in reaching reconciliation with its neighbouring countries." This had impressed him deeply and had influenced him in his further work. After completing his scholarship, he initially continued to work as a judge, eventually serving at his country's Supreme Court of Justice. Kim Hwang-sik was then appointed President of the South Korean Court of Auditors for two years before becoming Prime Minister in October 2010, an office he held until 2013.
After leaving office as Prime Minister, the lawyer returned to Germany in 2013 as a visiting researcher at the Institute of Korean Studies (IKS) at Freie Universität Berlin. In Korea he has meanwhile also become active in the field of student sport: he was Co-Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade.
Kim Hwang-sik has always maintained close links with Germany, the DAAD and his host university. This is why, during his premiership, between 2011 and 2012, he was active as a member of the board of the Alumni-Netzwerk Deutschland Korea (ADeKo), a nationwide federation of Germany alumni with around 40 associations. He became its chairman in 2015.