By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Korean singer Lee Mi-ja will receive the Eun-Gwan Order of Culture Merit from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Yonhap News agency reported.
Lee, who celebrated her 50th year as a singer this year, is the first among her contemporaries to receive the second-highest cultural honor. She will accept the award from President Lee Myung-bak at a ceremony at the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, Wednesday.
''Lee is celebrating the 50th anniversary of her debut this year. She has made over 600 albums, recorded 2,000 songs, and experienced highs and lows in the 1960s and '70s. She is being given the Eun-Gwan Order of Culture Merit for her lifetime achievements and contributions in developing culture and arts through pop music,'' a culture ministry official said.
Lee made her debut when she was 17 years old, becoming known as ''Queen of Elegy'' after her namesake song. She was one of the most popular singers of her time, but some of her songs such as ''Miss Camellia" were banned by the more authoritarian Korean governments.
On April 2, Lee will begin her 16-city tour with concerts in Seoul, Daegu, Ilsan, Daejeon, Suwon and Seongnam. She released new album ''Lee Mi-ja's 50 Years: 101 Songs I've Sang With the World'' on four compact discs.