South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Image: Flickr user Republic of Korea

Trade, People-to-People and Cultural Connections: President Park’s Visit to Los Angeles


Trade, people-to-people ties and cultural connections were the focus of President Park Geun-hye’s trip to Los Angeles, CA, on May 8-9. South Korea ranks as the third export market for the $92 billion of goods and services exports from the state of California to Asia and the state is home to more than 500,000 Korean-Americans. The city of Los Angeles is home to the world famous Korea Town neighborhood and hosts the largest Korean population outside of South Korea.

President Park attended several meetings during her visit. The first event was with members of the LA Korean American community, where President Park highlighted many diverse areas of cooperation between Korean Americans and Koreans, stating that “LA Korea Town used to be considered ‘a small Korea in America’ but it is now becoming a ‘base camp for Korea to enter to the world.’” She further pointed out the importance of ties between Korean Americans and Korean citizens emphasizing that “more opportunities should be given to overseas Koreans.”

President Park attends a Leader's Meeting for Creative Economy in Los Angeles, May 9, 2013. Image: Cheong Wa Dae

Her second public event was a Leaders’ Meeting for Creative Economy at the J. Paul Getty Museum, which is located in California’s 33rd Congressional District. Korean Americans comprise almost half of the Asian population of this congressional district, and South Korea is also the third destination for exports from that district. Information technology leaders from both the United States and South Korea, including the CEOs of Power Computing Corporation and Venture 3D, and also lawyers who specialize in intellectual property rights, were in attendance. In her address, President Park stressed the importance of information communication technology adding that “a creative economy can be realized through connecting science technology and information communication technology (ICT) and mixing industry and culture with human creativity and imagination.” Earlier in the week, the Korean Times reported that seven U.S. companies, including Boeing, Curtiss-Wright, and Almost Heroes, promised to invest $380 million in Korea. President Park stressed the role of entrepreneurship in her vision of economic growth when she stated that “The creative economy is led by the private sector.”

President Park’s final engagement was a luncheon with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California’s Governor Jerry Brown to discuss trade and tourism. Mayor Villaraigosa explained to his guest that “The bonds between your country and my city are deep and rich” and that “Our histories and cultures are deeply intertwined." He further remarked that Los Angeles would be “unthinkable without its Korean community.”