Jecheon, South Korea

 Hwan-Yeong — Welcome!

Jecheon became Spokane’s fifth Sister City in May 1999, when Jecheon Mayor Hee-Pil Kwon and 15 other representatives of Jecheon signed a sister-city protocol during a visit to Spokane.  Since then, there have been many visits between the two cities including a Spokane business delegation to Jecheon in 2004, three Jecheon City delegations that visited Spokane in 1999, 2001, and 2005, a soccer team visit to Korea during the 2002 World Cup, and many small group visits.

Jecheon is located in North Chungchong Province, in central South Korea, about two hours southeast of Seoul by car, bus or train. It’s a medium-sized city, with a population of about 150,000.

Jecheon has much in common with Spokane, in that it’s an inland city, rather than a coastal one. It’s a regional center of commerce for a trade area that includes two adjacent provinces, and it is located in an area with some of the most beautiful scenery in Korea, including high mountains and large lakes. Tourists come to see the renowned Eight Views of the Tanyang Area, Cheongpungho Lake, and the Worok-San and Sobaek-San National Parks.

Like Spokane, Jecheon is a transportation hub, with a major highway and three railroad lines passing through it. It’s also an education center, with a large four-year university (Semyung University) and two two-year colleges, Daewon Technical College and Jecheon Polytechnic College, which has led to some educational exchanges with Spokane.

To learn more about Jecheon, click here to watch and listen to a colorful city overview.

Besides tourism and education, Jecheon’s major industries include the manufacturing of cement, automotive parts, electronic and electrical products, and heavy machinery, plus food processing.

Like Spokane, a large agricultural area surrounds Jecheon, and agriculture is another important industry for the region. Key products are rice, apples, hot peppers, tobacco, and medicinal plants, but the area also produces many other fruits and vegetables.

Jecheon was founded in the fourth century A.D. It has numerous sites with Stone Age remains, some of which are still being excavated. A cave painting found in Jecheon in 1973 predates the oldest one found in France by 30,000 years.  Jecheon also boasts Uirimji, the oldest reservoir for agricultural irrigation in Korea. It was built during the Three Han period (2nd – 3rd century B.C.)

During the first half of the 20th century, Jecheon was an important center for patriotic resistance against Japan’s annexation and colonial rule of Korea, and in 1907 the city was completely destroyed by a conflagration set by the Japanese Army.  Its annual Autumn Festival commemorates that resistance.

The Why
Many people in Spokane probably remember Korea mostly for the destruction that occurred during the Korean War. Korea truly was devastated then, but that was in 1950, more than a half century ago. In the years since, Korea has grown into the world’s 10th or 11th largest economy. It’s an important country all around the world. Korea is Washington State’s fourth largest trade partner – after Japan, Canada, and China.

Through this sister-city relationship, people in Spokane, including students, educators and business people, can benefit from a new and better understanding of Korea, more knowledge of its importance, and a chance to interact with Koreans.

A number of Spokane companies are active in the Korean market already, but our sister-city relationship can help open opportunities for other Spokane companies to do business there. Other benefits are in the area of educational and personal exchanges. For instance, a number of Korean students are enrolled at colleges and universities in Spokane, and several English teachers from Spokane are teaching in Korea. The relationship also provides opportunities for Spokane citizens to exchange visits with people in Korea, so both can learn about each other’s country and culture.

Who Should Join?
We welcome all who have an interest in learning about Korea and sharing information about Spokane with people in Korea. This may include people who have visited Korea for business or pleasure, who have Korean friends, who have adopted Korean family members, or who may just have an interest in Korea.

Members are invited to participate in various activities including celebrations of traditional Korean holidays, twice-yearly screenings of Korean movies, picnics with Korean college students studying in Spokane, and other activities. In addition, the Association has conducted annual exchanges of children’s artwork with our Korean sister city since 1999. The Association also offers scholarships to Spokane students who are interested in studying in Korea, such as during a semester abroad or a summer study program.

Korean Language Classes
Korean language classes are currently being offered by Korean Association of the Spokane Area. Contact Helen Eigen at 570-4180 for information.

Helpful links

Hyunki Ahn, President
Spokane-Jecheon Sister City Association