By BRITTANY FRYSON
Jaedeuk Goh, mayor of Seongdong-gu in Seoul, South Korea, spoke to students about health care, law enforcement, fire fighting services, and water services in Seongdong-gu, a sister city to Cobb County.
Goh highlighted the differences between Seongdong-gu and Cobb County. Seongdong-gu is one of the 25 districts that make up the city of Seoul, South Korea. The small district covers a total of 6.5 square miles and is home to 310,000 people. In comparison, Cobb County covers 344.5 square miles and has a population of more than 700,000 people.
Cobb County and Seongdong-gu have been sister cities since 2007. Kennesaw State University is also partnered with Seongdong-gu through study abroad and the Bagwell School of Education.
Student Curiosity Sparks Interesting Questions
Students were curious about how Seongdong-gu differed from America. They asked the mayor about the living conditions in Seongdong-gu, the education system, taxes, and the business economy.
Goh explained that Seongdong-gu is made up mostly of small businesses rather than large corporations. Students there are required to attend six years of elementary school and three years of middle school. High school is optional and requires tuition to attend. In regards to taxes, ten percent is the base tax rate on any purchase in Seongdong-gu.
The students also inquired about his favorite American singer. He replied “Pat Boone,” a pop singer from the 1950s and 60s. The students were amused.
One student asked his honest opinion of America.
“I am not an honest man,” he said jokingly. The class laughed. He went on to explain to her that he loved America and its people.
“Even with the 10 second delay for translating, he was still able to make us laugh. It was cool,” said Lauren Fox, a student in Heeman Kim’s class.
Goh was introduced by Kim, assistant professor of communication at KSU. He was accompanied by a team of Korean government officials and business executives. Jinny Kim, a KSU graduate, escorted the delegation and served as a translator for the mayor.
“It was great that he could come. It was a very different experience.” said Fox.
Goh is the only mayor in Seongdong-gu to be elected for four terms in office. By law, a mayor may hold a maximum of three consecutive terms in office. Goh served for three terms then left the office for one term after which he was re-elected. He is currently serving his fourth term.