Taking the top spot at the Worldskills Competition for the fourth straight year and 18 times in total
A welcome home ceremony was held at Incheon International Airport on July 11th (Thu.) for the returning Korean team that had accomplished the splendid feat of securing the top spot in the medal tally at the 42nd Worldskills Competition in Germany.
The ceremony was attended by about 200 people, including Prime Minister Jung Hong-won, Employment and Labor Minister Phang Ha-nam, Chairperson of Worldskills Korea and President of HRD Korea Song Young-jung, Won Hyun-woo, the gold medalist in steel structure who was named MVP, and other team members.
"I would like to give a hearty welcome to you all proudly returning home after raising Korea's status as a technological power in the world," said Prime Minister Jung Hong-won. "I congratulate and applaud you and your families on making the splendid achievement of taking the top spot at the Worldskills Competition for the fourth straight year and 18 times in total."
Prime Minister Jung expressed regret over people's dwindling interest in skills competitions in recent years, saying "In the 1970s and 1980s, the whole country used to be in a festive mood, even holding a parade, when the Korean team returned home from the Worldskills Competition. I came in person to welcome you at the airport because I would like to highlight how meaningful it is to win the top place at the Worldskills Competition."
He praised each and every player as our pride, and said, "Skilled technicians are the pillar of our economy, and the government will make efforts to create a competency-oriented society by fostering and supporting skilled workers."
President Park Geun-hye sent a congratulatory message to the Korean team through Employment and Labor Minister Phang Ha-nam. In that message, she said, "I offer congratulations on the Korean team's remarkable feat of securing the top spot at the Worldskills Competition for the 18th time, and hope that all players will further hone their skills and be number one in their respective fields."
On his return, Korean team leader Song Young-jung (President of HRD Korea) said, "Thanks to the nation's active support and cheer, the Korean team could come out on top in the overall medal count at the Worldskills Competition for the 18th time." He also asked for active interest and support in developing technical skills in Korea and promoting skills competitions.
Korea fielded a total of 41 players in 37 trade areas at this year's Worldskills Competition, and secured the top spot in the overall medal count with 12 golds, 5 silvers, 6 bronzes and 14 certificates of excellence, beating its arch rivals, Switzerland (9 golds, 3 silvers, 5 bronzes and 18 certificates of excellence) and Taiwan (6 golds, 4 silvers, 8 bronzes and 13 certificates of excellences). It also set a new record as all of its players won a certificate of excellence or above in the trade areas they participated in.
Since the Worldskills Competition hosted by Spain in 1967, Korea has participated in a total of 27 Worldskills Competitions and finished on top in the overall medal count 18 times. Such achievements have helped Korea to maintain its reputation as a technological power.
The government gives each gold, silver and bronze medalist 67.2 million won, 33.6 million won and 22.4 million won, respectively, in prize money, and an order of merit. Medalists are granted other benefits, too. For example, they are exempt from the industrial engineer qualification exam under the national technical qualification system, allowed to work as industrial technical personnel instead of serving in the military, and paid skills grants each year if they are engaged in the same occupations as their skilled trade areas.