Federal Way leaders launched a one-of-a-kind partnership in 1992 with the city’s Korean-American community that continues today.
Many of these leaders came together at a reception Thursday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Federal Way’s Korean Community Quarterly Meeting, which provides a key communication channel between the city and its Korean-speaking population.
Former Federal Way Mayor Mike Park – who went on to become the state’s first Korean-American mayor in 2000 – played a pivotal role in establishing these meetings 25 years ago. At Thursday’s reception at the new Performing Arts and Event Center, Park told the audience that before the meetings began, Federal Way’s Korean community had been “living on a small island” surrounded by everyone else.
“We needed to build a bridge,” Park said. “Tonight we celebrate the history between the city and the Korean community. I’m looking forward to the next 25 years.”
Nearly 5.5 percent of Federal Way’s population of 98,000 identifies as Korean-American, according to the latest Census figures. Current Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell said the city has the highest percentage of Korean-Americans in the state. He noted that 25 years ago, “no other city had this kind of engagement with a minority group.”
“This truly is one of the great pillars of our community,” Ferrell said.
Federal Way has also spawned the state’s first Korean-American police chief, Andy Hwang, who spoke in Korean as he shared crime statistics Thursday. Hwang said the city’s overall crime had decreased 9 percent between January and August 2017 compared to the same timeframe in 2016. Other city department leaders gave a brief overview Thursday on parks, construction projects, economic development and the Performing Arts and Event Center while Park translated for the audience.
Kyongsig Park, Acting Consul General of the Republic of Korea, attended the reception and praised the city’s efforts to connect with the Korean population. The reception also recognized former Federal Way Mayor Bob Stead and King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer with awards for their support since the 1990s. Music was performed by violinist Susie Kim, cellis Soung Lim Lee, pianist Minhee Chung and the Bel Canto Choir.