Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi finally collected a human rights award in South Korea on Thursday nearly a decade after it was conferred.
The democracy icon had been awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights back in 2004, but was still under house arrest at the time and unable to receive it.
The prize is named for the southern South Korean city where a pro-democracy uprising in 1980 was brutally suppressed.
In her acceptance speech, Suu Kyi thanked the foundation behind the award and the many Korean pro-democracy activists who attended the ceremony.
“They are true friends and comrades who understand what we are going through because they have gone through the same troubles themselves,” she said.
The Nobel peace laureate who was released in 2010 after spending the best part of two decades under house arrest, urged global support for political and economic reform in Myanmar.
“Over the last year I was fortunate enough to visit ... countries I haven’t seen for more than 20 years,” she said.
“Visiting these countries and seeing how they have prospered, I am struck by the difference between the life of our people and that of those in more developed nations.
“I’m confident that as we move forward to democracy, we will have the support and help from our true friends, and in this way, we will be able to achieve peace and prosperity that we so desire,” she added.
Suu Kyi arrived in South Korea on Monday for a four-day visit that has included meetings with outgoing President Lee Myung-Bak and his successor Park Geun-Hye.
Later Thursday, she was scheduled to meet with a collection of South Korea soap opera stars, including Lee Young-Ae and Ahn Jae-Wook, who are popular in Myanmar.
Lee was a main actress in the pan-Asian TV hit Jewel in the Palace and Ahn starred in the 1997 TV drama Star in My Heart.
On Friday she will deliver a speech at Seoul National University and accept an honourary doctorate.