Korean-Americans have long been part of Lakewood’s heritage. From the ethnic business along South Tacoma Way to soldiers and their families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the Sister Cities partnership that the community shares overseas.
On Monday, Moon Duk-ho, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle, reminded officials, staff and students at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom why that connection between the two regions will only grow.
Moon was the featured guest at a commemoration the college held for its photo exhibit: “Past, Present and Future Friends of Korea: Memories of Peace Corps Korea Volunteers.”
The exhibit featured some 70 historical photographs that document Peace Corps volunteers dating back to 1966, when they were first allowed into Korea. It’s intended to celebrate who have dedicated their lives to the study, service and development of the Republic of Korea.
Moon recognized how large and interwoven Korean-Americans have become in the fabric of the region. About 170,000 Korean-Americans live in the Pacific Northwest, according to figures from the Consulate. Many of them have gone onto work in businesses, both big and small. Others have started their own.
Moon said he’s working to market the region to Korean businesses that might be interested in moving to the U.S. – another benefit of the connection between the two regions.
Dr. Michele L. Johnson, Chancellor of Pierce College, said the school was honored to welcome the Consulate General and his staff. She stressed the importance of celebrating the college’s diversity.
Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson, who himself has served in the Pacific as a member of the U.S. Navy, said the Korean-American community is an integral part of Lakewood’s culture and heritage, along with the area’s other ethnic minority groups.
“They offer diverse perspectives and histories that ultimately make Lakewood stronger,” the Mayor said. “Given Lakewood’s connection to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and its diverse population, the story of Lakewood is about different people coming together for the same goal: To achieve the ‘American Dream’ and make the community a better place.”
To view more pictures from today’s ceremony, visit the City of Lakewood’s Facebook page.