California City Celebrates Centennial with Delegation from its South Korean Sister

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by JAICHUNG LEE
A member of Namsadangpae performs dish turning with local children at Brea Community Center. [Image: Brea Korea Sister City Association]

In February, a group of city officials, local businessmen, and members of a traditional Korean theatrical troupe from Anseong, South Korea visited California to celebrate Brea’s 100th birthday. Eun-Seong Hwang, the Mayor of Anseong, led the 35-member delegation — the city’s largest foreign delegation since Hwang took the office in July 2014. The week-long trip celebrated not only Brea’s centenary but also the ongoing successful student exchange program. This visit was made possible by an invitation from the Brea city assembly last May.

On the opening day of the celebration, Namsadangpae — a traditional roaming entertainment group designated by the state as a cultural treasure — delivered circus-like performances. More than 1000 people came to watch and celebrate the event. A scheduled parade involving traditional costumes was postponed due to heavy rain.

During the visit, the group also made time to discuss economic relations between the two cities. The visitors had a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of North Orange County on February 16 to discuss the current state of trade. After a welcoming ceremony at city hall the next day, they attended a meeting regarding agricultural exports and finalized an economic exchange agreement. The group then met with the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Orange County to discuss ways of attracting further investment in the two cities; they agreed to initiate market research into both cities to identify trade and exchange opportunities. Before they left, the delegation visited the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in Los Angeles and was briefed about tariffs, the distribution network, and trade data.

Brea and Anseong became sister cities in March 2011, and have had robust cultural and educational exchange since then. A group of 20 secondary school students visited Brea this January for language study upon invitation from Brea Sister City Association. Moreover, in acknowledgment of the recent visit from Anseong, a delegation from Brea will visit Anseong this coming September.

Jaichung Lee is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and an Asan Washington young Fellow with the Asan Academy in Seoul.