|Yuldashev Aliakbar from Kazakhstan, left, poses with Yangyang County head Kim Jin-ha at his office in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, Tuesday. Courtesy of Yangyang County Office|
By Jung Min-ho
A Kazakh man, 28, an undocumented migrant who risked his life to rescue 10 people from a burning building in March, has received an award for his heroic deeds.
Kim Jin-ha, head of the Yangyang County Office in Gangwon Province, presented the award to Yuldashev Aliakbar, better known as "Ali" among Koreans, for outstanding bravery.
The ceremony was held at Kim's office after the Ministry of Health and Welfare selected him last month as one of the two recipients of the bravery honor, along with Kang Cheol-soo, a taxi driver who rescued a man trying to commit suicide in Seoul in January.
Ali came into the spotlight after saving people from a burning apartment at a Yangyang town on March 23. While trying to wake his neighbors and open windows to let the smoke out at around 11:20 p.m., he suffered burns to his back, neck and hands.
Despite his bravery, Ali immediately faced deportation after his illegal status came to light.
Moved by his story, more than 10,000 people signed a petition urging the government not to deport him, saying he deserved a reward, not deportation.
With the award, Ali is expected to gain government compensation and eligibility to apply for permanent residency.
A Ministry of Justice official told The Korea Times that the award would be factored into the ministry's review of his status.