Download our 2010 Year-End Report


Chicago’s Sister City Since 2007

Committee Chair: Nam H. Paik

In May 2007, Mayor Richard M. Daley and Mayor Hur Nam-sik signed Chicago’s 27th Sister Cities agreement between Chicago and Busan, Republic of Korea. The similarities between the two cities provide the opportunity to exchange ideas on issues related to the arts, education, medicine, technology, economic development, the environment and social services.

Chicago and Busan are roughly the same size in population and are one of the few cities in the world where a tourist can stay in a downtown hotel and literally walk across the street to the beach. Both cities are home to world renowned financial exchanges, and are considered a hub for higher education, and have become leaders in the convention and tourism industry.

Since the official signing, the committee has focused on education initiatives. In 2007, Chicago Public Schools sent a delegation to Busan to interview Korean teachers who are candidates to teach math and science in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The CPS delegation traveled to Korea and a small group of teachers from Busan came to Chicago in August, 2007 as part of this pilot program.

ABOUT BUSAN – Fast Facts

Mayor: Hur Nam-sik
Country:    Republic of Korea
Location:    Busan is located on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula at 128˚ east longitude and 35˚ north latitude. It is an international city linking the continent and the sea. Busan is located on the same latitude as Tokyo,Kabul, Los Angeles, Memphis, Beirut and Algiers.
Geography:    Partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow valleys; cultivated plains along the coasts, particularly in the west and south.
History:    The myth of Korea's foundation by the god-king Tangun in BC 2333 embodies the homogeneity and self-sufficiency valued by the Korean people. Korea experienced many invasions by its larger neighbors in its 2,000 years of recorded history. The country repelled numerous foreign invasions despite domestic strife, in part due to its protected status in the Sino-centric regional political model during Korea's Chosun dynasty (1392-1910). Historical antipathies to foreign influence earned Korea the title of "Hermit Kingdom" in the 19th century.
Industry:    Electronics and electrical products, telecommunications, motor vehicles, shipbuilding, mining and manufacturing, petrochemicals, industrial machinery, steel.
Flag Description:  The three black unbroken bars (upper left) symbolize heaven, the trigram (lower left) symbolizes fire, the trigram (upper right) symbolizes water, while the three broken bars (lower right) symbolize earth. The white field represents the traditional color of the Korean people. The centered yin-yang symbol signifies unity.

October 14
Focus: Government
President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of South Korea made his first visit to Chicago.

August 8
Focus: Culture
Muju Taekwondo, visiting from the Republic of Korea, opened the Sixth Annual Chicago Sister Cities International Festival. The group was accompanied by famed Dr. Sammy Lee, a Korean-American, who became the first U.S. male diver to win back-to-back gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics and the 1952 Helsinki Games. This was the second straight year a visiting group from Korea served as the festival's opening act.


Although Chicago's Koreans have only recently built a sizeable community, their roots go back until at least 1920, when the census counted 27 Korean residents. Many of these early immigrants had probably moved to the mainland after working on Hawaiian plantations; others came as students and stayed as ginseng merchants.


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