- This article is written by 2015 Daegu Foreign Blog Press, Maria Indira P. Bio -
The hall was massive, and on the brightly lit stage were different national flags that tell you it was a multinational gathering. Guests have already filled the seats when he arrived. He went around moving from one table to another, and shook hands to greet the guests. To our group and other expats, who were half of the guests in attendance, he introduced himself: “My name’s Kwon Young Jin”
He continued greeting other guests around until he came to where his table was, where the other VIPs that included ambassadors Krzysztof IgnacyMajka of Poland, Pham Huu Chi of Vietnam, Csaba Gabor of Hungary, Myo ThantPe of Myanmar, and Mark William Lippert of the United States were seated.
Inside the Hotel Interburgo convention hall, venue of the 2015 DGIEA night
But he was the night’s key man, Kwon Young Jin – the mayor of Daegu. He was hosting an evening of friendship Daegu has tirelessly established, over the span of twenty years, with communities around the world. It was the night of the Daegu-Gyeongbuk International Exchange Association (DGIEA), held annually in November, to celebrate the city’s diplomatic ties and international exchanges with other countries. What started as a simple international association between Korea and Poland in 1995 is now a strong 31-member associations, with the recent addition of Korea-Indonesia, Korea-USA, and Korea-Myanmar.
This wasn’t the first occasion I came to encounter the mayor. At the last year’s welcome ceremony for the Daegu foreign blog press, which I happen to be a member, he also came with that genial air that radiated across the hall. When it was time to take photos, he initiated by squatting on the floor. And we all followed suit, with all happy faces.My photo taken with him, with my certificate in hand had the mayor doing the peace sign, like a youngster hoping to get a perfect picture for a Facebook profile.
The mayor is a perfect embodiment of Daegu – a soft shell, warm, and jovial. He is proud of his city, and he beams with pride at its success in hosting a number of international events: the FIFA World Cup games in 2002, the Summer Universiade in 2003, World Championships in Athletics in 2011, the World Energy Congress in 2013, and the 7th World Water Forum in 2015. Likewise, Daegu is proud of this man, just as it takes pride being a home to many distinguished Koreans, who played significant roles in enriching the country’s history, economy, politics, culture, and arts.
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