Eighty-one-year-old singer Lee Mi-ja will receive the highest national cultural merit on Saturday for her contributions to Korean pop culture.
Lee was selected as the recipient of the Geumgwan Order of Cultural Merit in recognition of her status as the most influential Korean pop artist of the 1960s, the Culture Ministry said Friday in announcing the recipients of various honors for popular culture.
Lee is the first K-pop artist to win the highest rank of the Order of Cultural Merit.
Lee, who debuted in 1959, rose to stardom with 1964's "Camellia Girl." She has released over 2,500 songs throughout her career that spans 6 1/2 decades.
Along with Lee, 30 other South Korean artists and groups will receive honors. The second highest class of cultural merit will go to voice actor Lee Geun-wook, 77, and actor Jung Hye-sun, 81.
Actor Hwang Jung-min, 53, will be presented with the presidential award, while actor Park Eun-bin, 31, will receive the prime minister’s award.
The 2023 Korea Popular Culture and Arts Awards ceremony will be held Saturday at the Haeoreum Grand Theater of the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul.