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International relations strengthen city and region

Republic of Korea Consul General Haryong Lee speaks with King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer on July 21. - Courtesy photo
Republic of Korea Consul General Haryong Lee speaks with King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer on July 21.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

With the knowledge that international trade fuels Washington’s economy, Federal Way leaders met July 21 to discuss the Puget Sound and Republic of Korea.

Federal Way City Council member Mike Park, Metropolitan King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer and King County Executive Ron Sims met with Republic of Korea Consul General Haryong Lee at Sims’ Seattle office.

The meeting was an opportunity for the regional leaders to get to know Lee, Park said. Lee arrived at his position as consul general for the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle in May. Such meetings generally occur once or twice a year, Park said. They help the regional and Korean representatives explore business and trade opportunities, he said.

They also provide a forum for discussing improvements to student exchange programs and culture-sharing opportunities, Park said.

“It was a very warm, friendly meeting,” Park said.

Ongoing efforts:

The meeting was the latest effort by Federal Way’s leaders to create lasting relationships and an environment for open communication with international countries. The city also fosters a Sister City program. Through this, Japanese representatives from the city of Hachinohe and South Korean representatives from Donghae communicate with Federal Way staff members, city council and the public.

Representatives from each of the two sister cities and Federal Way travel to one another’s country. While there, they share information about city government and explore business networking opportunities. Ways to encourage interaction between sister city schools, youth travel, cultural events and appearances at community festivals are also discussed.

The networking is beneficial in helping Federal Way residents better understand the Korean and Japanese cultures. Each year, the city’s Han Woo-Ri festival is partially funded by the Korean Foundation, Park said. The first year it took place, the foundation donated $30,000 on a recommendation by the Korean Consulate General office, he said. In 2001, Federal Way sent a high school baseball team to Japan.

“It’s important that youngsters are diversified and understanding other cultures,” Park said.

City staff and council members will venture to Japan and South Korea this October. Mayor Jack Dovey, Deputy Mayor Eric Faison, council member Jim Ferrell and Federal Way Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Pierson will make the trip, along with two or three staff members, executive assistant Brook Lindquist said. While in Korea, the group will tour mixed-use developments in the capital city of Seoul, she said.

Lasting benefits:

Washington state conducts trade with South Korea on a regular basis.

The state imports automobiles, cellular phones and technology from South Korea, Park said. Washington exports commercial and military aircraft and advanced technology to South Korea, he said.

“In the Puget Sound (region) about 30 percent of jobs are related to international trade,” Park said.

Korea was Washington’s fifth-largest export market in 2006, according to a November 2007 Washington state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development article titled “Washington Selects a New State Foreign Representative in Korea.” The state exported $2.5 billion in goods, including medical and surgical equipment and forest products, to the country that same year, according to the article. In the past 30 years, exports have added nearly half of the state’s new jobs, according to the CTED Web site www.cted.wa.gov.

“For our region’s future prosperity, we must be increasingly focused on international trade and job-producing businesses,” von Reichbauer said in a press release. “It is through this commitment and an open dialogue that international trade will continue creating jobs in our county for generations to come.”

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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