By Wendy Osher
South Korean officials say they are interested in establishing a sister-city relationship with Maui County.
Mayor Alan Arakawa and Council Chairman Danny Mateo received the news while meeting with the Mayor of Seo-gu earlier this week. The two were part of a Maui delegation that traveled to South Korea on July 5th to formally extend the sister-city invitation.
The trip comes just in time to establish a dialogue with Korean officials before they travel to Hawaii in the fall to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference. It also comes on the heels of the news that Korea will be hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang.
Seo-gu Mayor Park Hwan Yong and his staff were on hand to greet Mayor Arakawa and Chair Mateo, along with Mayor Arakawa’s wife Ann, Deputy Finance Director Jeremiah Savage and his wife Amber, Special Assistant Kit Zulueta and interpreter Kim Kapsoo.
“The reality is that we have to think of Maui County as part of this global community,” said Mayor Arakawa. “The exchange of information and the possibilities are endless when it comes to collaboration among different cities.”
Seo-gu has four universities that specialize in many fields of interest to Maui County, including Tourism, Hotel and Convention Management, Nursing and Public Administration. The Maui group also toured Daejeon’s National Science Museum where different technology in the fields of bioscience, telecommunications and geosciences were on display.
“Their technology is far more advanced than Maui,” said Chair Mateo. “This relationship will be beneficial to both parties.”
The group also had the opportunity to experience the view from the VIP section of Daejeon’s 40,000 seat stadium where the 2002 Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup was held.
On Friday the group from Maui was scheduled to meet with the Mayor of Goyang. Meetings are also scheduled with wholesalers in Korea who distribute Maui products.
Mayor Arakawa is also scheduled to speak at luncheon to be attended by key business executives from Huyndai, Daewoo, the U.S. Embassy’s Agricultural Trade Office and others from South Korea’s industrial and agricultural sectors.
The Mayor’s delegation is expected to return to Maui on Wednesday, July 13, 2011. Maui County is paying for the Mayor’s trip along with Council Chair Mateo, Deputy Director Savage and Special Assistant Zulueta. Mrs. Arakawa and Mrs. Savage are paying for their own trip while the Maui Visitor’s Bureau is paying for the interpreter.
*** Supporting information courtesy County of Maui, Office of the Mayor.