Lakewood Mayor Jason Whalen and Gimhae City Mayor Hong Tae-yong showcase gifts presented at a ceremony Dec. 5, 2022 in Lakewood Council Chambers.

Lakewood, Gimhae City, South Korea establish ‘Sister City’ partnership

Dec. 8, 2022

The Lakewood City Council was joined earlier this week by a delegation from Gimhae City, located in the South Gyeongsang Province in the Republic of Korea. The visit was one of celebration, as the two municipalities formally recognized their long-standing relationship with the establishment of an official “Sister City” designation.

Mayor Jason Whalen and Gimahe Mayor Hong Tae-yong made the partnership official at a signing ceremony Dec. 5, 2022 in front of guests and members of the public at the City Council meeting.

“It is with a hopeful heart that our two cities move together and unite on this path of cooperation for shared growth with each other’s expectations, wishes, and strong sincerity for a thriving, collaborative friendship,” said Mayor Whalen at the meeting before inviting Mayor Hong and Lakewood Sister Cities Association President Connie Coleman-Lacadie to sign the agreement.

Officials used special pens to sign the document. They were made by a local artist with wood from Gingko and Garry Oak trees – both trees of significance to the respective cities. They also exchanged gifts to commemorate the occasion.

Representatives from Lakewood and Gimhae City look at a book filled with artwork from Lakewood and Gimhae students.
Gimhae City Mayor Hong Tae-yong, Lakewood Mayor Jason Whalen and Lakewood Sister Cities Association President Connie Coleman-Lacadie sign an agreement formalizing a Sister City relationship between the cities.
Lakewood Councilmember Paul Bocchi receives a gift from a representative from Gimhae City of the Republic of Korea.
Gimhae City Mayor Hong Tae-yong shares a gift with Lakewood City Councilmember Patti Belle.

Since 2006, Lakewood and Gimhae shared Friendship City status. In 2019 representatives from Lakewood and Gimhae met in Lakewood to discuss elevating the relationship between the two cities. Both delegations agreed it was mutually beneficial to take the next step in the relationship and become Sister City partners.  

As sister cities, Lakewood and Gimhae agreed to “seek mutual prosperity and development by promoting multiple forms of exchanges and cooperation in administration, the economy, education, culture, sports and other areas under the principles of reciprocity and equality.”

The expanded relationship brings with it a commitment to maintain exchanges, including visits to the respective cities by official delegates, and come together on projects and areas of shared interest.

Joining the ceremony was Lt. Colonel Bernard West, Deputy Commander of the Lancer Brigade. West was invited to participate because of the city’s strong ties to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and its community connector, the 2/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The 2/2, also referred to as the “Lancer Brigade” is currently serving a nine-month deployment in the Republic of Korea and is the first Stryker unit to serve as the Korea Rotational Force.

Historically, the Lancer Brigade traces its lineage to the Republic of Korea, having fought in well-known battles such as Chipyong-ni, Heartbreak Ridge, and the Chosin Reservoir, earning a combined total of 30 campaign streamers. Over the years it has strengthened the Ironclad Alliance, which dates to 1953. 

Longstanding Partnership

In his remarks, Mayor Whalen thanked Gimhae City for sending 10,000 KF94 masks and 1,000 sets of personal protection equipment (PPE), which includes body suits, N95 masks, gloves, eye protection, and shoe covers, to the city in August 2020.  The masks and PPE were donated by Gimhae as an act of support, collaboration and friendship between the two cities. 

The 10,000 masks were distributed to residents, non-profits and local businesses.  The PPE sets were used by first responders, police and fire and for city responses to clean-ups involving potential workplace exposures to COVID-19.  

In 2021, the city extended an invitation to Gimhae students to participate in the city’s 25th Anniversary art contest event. The contest included work of Lakewood students from Clover Park School District and an adult category. Fifty Lakewood students and adults participated; 80 Gimhae students sent their works of art.

Each entry included a description, adding a personal and meaningful touch to the art. The city is grateful for its Sister City partners and Gimhae CIty staff who translated the artwork descriptions. 

The city of Lakewood and Gimhae City signed an agreement Dec. 5, 2022 to become sister cities. Representatives from both cities pose for a photo in Lakewood City Council chambers.
Representatives from Gimehae City in the Republic of South Korea pose on the Lakewood City Council dais.