Seok Hae-kyun, the captain of a Korean freighter that was hijacked by Somali pirates, received the Council of the International Maritime Organization Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea during the IMO general assembly in London on Monday. The award, which was inaugurated by the UN agency in 2007, recognizes persons or organizations who risk their lives to rescue people in distress at sea or prevent catastrophic pollution of the environment. Seok (58) was chosen for the gallantry he exhibited when the freighter was rescued by Korean Navy commandoes. The rescue operations, codenamed "Operation Dawn of Gulf of Aden," were carried out six days after the ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in waters near the Arabian Sea on Jan. 15. Seok was discharged from hospital on Nov. 4 after nine months of treatment and rehabilitation. When asked by reporters about his condition, he said, "My legs made an 80-90 percent recovery, but I still have great difficulty standing up from a sitting position."