Songpa-Gu Sisterhood Partnership
Fairfax County Enters into “Sisterhood Partnership"
Songpa-gu District of Seoul, Korea
In July, 2009, our Board hosted a delegation from Songpa-gu, a district of Seoul, Korea, led by Mayor Kim Young-Soon. Their visit culminated with the Signing Ceremony for a new Sister jurisdiction partnership here in our Board auditorium of July 13th.
During the week of September 21st, Songpa-gu received a small delegation from Fairfax County in order to show us their beautiful District and to host a Signing Ceremony there. This trip was paid for by Songpa-gu and did not involve any Fairfax County taxpayers’ funds.
Songpa-gu sought us to be their partner after conducting research on U.S. jurisdictions. They felt Fairfax County shared similarities to themselves. They, like Fairfax County, have experienced most of their growth within a relatively short period of time. Their residents are among the highest paid in Korea and their schools are excellent.
Our new sister jurisdiction has grown up around the area of Seoul that was the site of the 1988 Olympics. They, like Fairfax County, have made protecting and preserving the environment a major priority – to the degree that the Han River is now used for drinking water and the river bank in many places has been restored for pristine park and recreational uses. Like Fairfax County, they are struggling with how to address traffic congestion and Seoul’s “Climate Change Action Plan” includes references to BRT and to subway and bicycle infrastructure expansions that sound very familiar. Songpa-gu, with a population of about 700,000 is concentrated on a relatively small (13 sq. mile) footprint. The district has a spacious airy feeling, however, as it is laced with parks, green spaces, public art and recreational spaces.
Some “take-aways” from this trip include opportunities for student and teacher exchanges, as well as collaborations among professional staffs – particularly in the areas of technology, land use planning, transportation and economic development. This continues to be on the condition that taxpayer dollars not be used for the purpose of this partnership. Barry Biggar of Visit Fairfax has agreed to assume a coordinating role for activities.
Songpa-gu has already listed Fairfax County in their official documents as their Sister jurisdiction and include photos of our July 13th ceremony in the lobby of their government center.
(Supervisors Gross, Frey, Smyth, Foust, Herrity, Chairman Bulova, Congressman Connolly, Mayor Kim Young Soon, Mr. Moon, Councilman Seung Jae Noh, Director Kyoung Hwan Lee)
On July 13, 2009 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors entered into a “Sisterhood Partnership" with the Songpa-gu District of Seoul, Korea.
Songpa-gu has a population of approximately 620,000 citizens and is described as “a very beautiful city surrounded with a castle on the mountain and a river and stream presence. In 1988 Songpa-gu hosted the Seoul Olympic Games.
The Agreement was signed prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting by Mayor of Songpa-gu, Kim Young Soon and Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Sharon Bulova. Congressman Gerry Connolly attended the Signing Ceremony and presented the mayor with a U.S. Flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol.
After the ceremony, the delegation from Songpa-gu was welcomed to the Board Room. In addition to Mayor Kim Young Soon, members of the delegation included:
Seung Jae Noh, Council Member
Kyoung Hwan Lee, Director, Administrative Affairs
Jung Hee Hong, Team Leader, Planning & Control Team
Bong Im Jung, Administrative Assistance to the Mayor
Sa Young Kang, Member, External Affairs Team
Mayor Kim initiated discussion of the Partnership in January of 2008. She was aware of the vibrant Korean-American community in Fairfax County and believed that our jurisdictions share much in common with our focus on environmental initiatives and a forward-look agenda.
Attending the ceremony was At-large School Board Member Ilryong Moon. He and Braddock School Board Member Tessie Wilson had already received and welcomed the delegation at their School Board Meeting on Thursday, July 9th. Ilryong Moon and Tessie Wilson were key in moving the Partnership to reality. The itinerary and arrangements for the delegation were handled by Barry Biggar, Executive Director for Visit Fairfax, an organization which promotes tourism and is funded by hotel taxes.
During their visit, members of the Songpa-gu delegation visited Robinson Secondary School and George Mason University. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority provided an orientation to the group on Friday, July 10th. On Saturday, Chairman Bulova joined the delegation as they visited Burke Centre library, where they met Eagle Scout Chris Shea as he and volunteers were building an outside Story Telling area. The delegation moved on to the Lorton Arts Foundation, had lunch and a VIP tour at Mount Vernon, then spent the evening at Wolf Trap.
Following Monday’s Signing Ceremony, members of the Songpa-gu delegation visited the County’s Public Safety & Transportation Operations Center (PSTOC), then contributed to the County’s economy with a shopping excursion at Tyson’s Corner.
Fairfax County is very excited about the Partnership between Songpa-gu and I believe that there will be mutual benefits in the areas of economic development, and the sharing of best practices for educational, environmental, cultural and artistic exchanges.