Sister City Ties Blossom between Californian and South Korean Cities

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by Karin Silitonga
Mayor Youn Sang-ki (second from the left) and Mayor Richard Kerr (far right) share their remarks after the signing of the MoU. [Image: City of Adelanto]

A new sister city relationship was formed between Adelanto, California and Hadong, South Korea late in March. The City Council of Adelanto held a special meeting on March 22 to officially establish the new partnership, during which both Adelanto Mayor Richard Kerr and Hadong Mayor Youn Sang-ki were present.  After the relationship was unanimously approved, the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which will enable more opportunities for cooperation, and takes California’s relationship with South Korea one step further.

Representatives of Hadong first contacted Adelanto officials in February about the possibility of establishing sister city ties. This makes Adelanto the first US city that Hadong has become sister cities with, although it currently has sister city relationships with three cities in China. With this new partnership, the parties hope to promote co-prosperity through cooperation in areas including tourism, trade, and cultural exchange.

Adelanto adds to the 25 sister city, county, and state relationships that California has with South Korea. Gyeongsangnam-do, the South Korean province in which Hadong is located, has eight sister relationships with American counterparts. Currently, there are over 100 sister relationships existing between the United States and South Korea, with over half of US states having connections with communities in Korea. These established relations are more than a formality, with sister cities facilitating educational exchange trips, hosting visiting delegations, exchanging symbolic gifts, and celebrating milestones such as 30 years of friendship. Furthermore, these people-to-people relationships are important as Korean Americans are the 5th largest Asian ethnic group in the United States. 500,000 Korean Americans live in California alone, which amounts to over a quarter of the total Korean American population in the country.

Karunia "Karin" Silitonga is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a recent graduate of Baylor University.