Lynnwood is one step closer to choosing Damyang as sister city

Vice Consul Lee Soo-Won addresses the Lynnwood City Council. (Photos courtesy the City of Lynnwood)

Council chambers were packed Tuesday as business owners, dignitaries, press and local members from the area’s Korean community came out to support the renewal of Lynnwood’s Sister City Program (SCP) and especially the recommendation of Damyang, Korea as the sister city.

“The program’s primary goals are to build people-to-people relationships, provide educational opportunities, promote trade and tourism, enhance understanding of cultural awareness and sensitivity and to make the program sustainable and long-term,” said Intergovernmental Relations Liaison Gina Israel as she kicked off the SCP Committee’s presentation.

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Sister City Committee members pose with the Lynnwood City Council.


Israel provided a brief overview of how the committee took consular advice and solid input from community associations and the public to come to its choice. She shared that the selection of Damyang had robust support as almost half of Lynnwood’s 9,700 foreign-born residents come from Asia, with 1,300 of those being from Korea. Plus, more than 200 small-to-medium sized businesses in the city are owned by Koreans.

“With work plans, projects and funding still being developed by the Korean city’s subcommittee, it is important to point out this program is still in its beginning stages,” Israel said.

Establishing sound funding will be key to fulfilling SCP goals, one of which is to create a sister city educational student exchange program. For that, seed money is needed, said Israel.

“The SCP Committee is looking into establishing a 501(c)3 foundation to accept sponsorships and donations,” Israel said, “and at our last meeting, it was happily reported that Asiana Airlines’ Seattle branch is willing to be a sponsor.”

Vice Consul Lee Soo-won from the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle, President of Alderwood Village’s Olympus Spa Sun Kyong Lee, Ki Seong Cho of Master Cho’s TaeKwon Do and the Lynnwood Black Belt Academy, and President of the Seattle-Washington State Korean Association Yun Hong also spoke at the presentation. Sun Kyong Lee and Ki Seong Cho are also the chair and co-chair, respectively, of the Korean Sister City Subcommittee.

“I am very happy that so many members of the Korean community and media came here tonight,” Vice Consul Lee Soo-won said. “The Korean consulate is ready to support this program.”

“I have been talking with the government representatives of Damyang and they are very excited to be the sister city of Lynnwood,” said Ki Seong Cho.

Sun Kyong Lee acknowledged representatives who came to the council meeting from Korean associations and news agencies, and executives from Asiana Airlines, Unibank and H Mart, among others, encouraging them to join the effort to “promote a strong relationship, alliance and appreciation of each other’s culture.”

Damyang has a population of about 50,000 and is well-known for its bamboo forests, handicrafts and annual Bamboo Festival. Lee said he could already imagine a “bamboo tree trail” in one of Lynnwood’s parks as a way to celebrate the coming partnership.

Yun Hong said that he was happy to have been involved in the process of “matchmaking” for Lynnwood and a Korean sister city.

“It was not easy, but the hard work will pay off. The match will be a great one,” Hong said.

The Lynnwood City Council expressed excitement for the recommendation and the SCP, yet also cautiously put out the question of how the program will be sustained. The issue of funding is significant as the council and city staff have yet to unearth whether it, or some other factor, played a part in the demise of a sister city program Lynnwood had over 25 years ago.

“I appreciate hearing that we will have sponsors – the thing that is really needed is to ensure this can continue,” Councilmember George Hurst said.

Art Ceniza, assistant city administrator, responded by saying the next step in the process is to work with leaders to identify funding sources within the community and within the city.

Meanwhile, the council would do its due diligence, Council President Christopher Boyer said. The vote to adopt Damyang as Lynnwood’s sister city will take place next Monday.

–By Karen Law

This is part one of two covering this week’s city council meeting. Part two will be coming soon.

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