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Koreans arrive to foster economic ties

Delegation wants cultural, business links with region

A delegation of South Korean officials and businessmen will visit RogueValley businesses and tourist attractions this week as part of a programto encourage economic development.

It's the first formal delegation in a series of steps to cement tiesbetween Southern Oregon and the Inchon-Pupyong District.

This is the cornerstone of our relationship with South Korea andthe Pupyong District, said Jackson County Commissioner Ric Holt. Thiswill solidify our program and help achieve our goals.

Holt and Ralph Wehinger, president of Ore-Cal Trade Corp., visited Koreain February to sign a Friendly City Affiliation pact. The pactprescribes two visits a year between such delegations.

The Korean delegates include Yong-Guy Choi, mayor of Pupyong District;Shung-Sic Hwang, Pupyong District Council chairman; Young Joo Kweon, presidentof Dami Corp. (food processing); and Hee-Jae Lee, president of Woosung I.B.Corp. (aquatic equipment). They are accompanied by family members and willbe assisted by Eun-Ja Oh, an official from the Pupyong District.

They were formally received at Medford City Hall, the Jackson CountyCourthouse and Southern Oregon University on Monday.

Today and Wednesday they'll tour Imation, Erickson Air-Crane, RisingSun Farms, Gary West Meats, Burrill Lumber Co., JoSoCo (trophy company),Homestead Log Homes and Jetcraft Boats.

The delegation plans to fly to Crater Lake and Sunriver, play a roundof golf at Eagle Point Golf Course and visit the Rogue Valley Mall and theBox R Ranch.

Holt said the visiting businessmen have expressed interest in severalpotential trade opportunities in Southern Oregon.

The president of the food processing company is seeking farmland on whichto grow specialty products for export to Korea. The other businessman manufacturesrafts and flotation vests and is interested in aluminum boats and woodenboat components products.

Jin-Won Kim, Oregon's representative in Korea, will interpret and assistthe visitors. He has been with the Oregon Economic Development Departmentfor 11 years and was previously with the Port of Portland.

Kim said Korean companies have made substantial investments in Oregon.Hyundai uses Portland as its Pacific Coast port of entry, Korean Air Linesserves Portland with two flights a week and companies are building Oregonfacilities to process photos and distribute building materials and electronicssupplies.

Korea is second only to Japan as Oregon's biggest trading partner,he said.

Jung-Ho Choi, 5, takes a break outside the Jackson County Courthouse on Monday after a long flight from South Korea. His father, Yong-Guy Choi, and other members of a delegation to establish cultural, friendship and economic ties with the region, were visiting with county officials inside - Photo by Jim Craven</P