Lee: Visit to South Korea ‘our most productive trip’
by Kim Isaza
October 23, 2012 01:33 AM | 3615 views | 7 7 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee shakes hands with Richard Shim, chairman of Seongdong-Gu chamber of Commerce and Industry. <br> Photo special to the MDJ
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee shakes hands with Richard Shim, chairman of Seongdong-Gu chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Photo special to the MDJ
MARIETTA — Chairman Tim Lee and a delegation of eight other Cobb Countians have returned from a weeklong visit to Seongdong-Gu, South Korea, the county’s sister city.

“It was our most productive trip so far,” Lee said.

Seongdong-Gu is one of the 25 “gu,” or districts, that make up the city of Seoul, South Korea.

Besides Lee, the Cobb travelers included Michael Hughes, Cobb’s economic development director; Sunny Park, a resident who leads the America Korea Friendship Society; Tony Britton, chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce; Emily Lembeck, superintendent of Marietta City Schools; Judy McNeill, principal of Walton High School; Elizabeth Manguno, a teacher at Walton High; and Robin Dorff, dean of the College of Humanities at Kennesaw State University, and his wife, Carolyn.

The groups split up into those focusing on business and those focusing on education and culture.

Lee and the business group conducted individual meetings with three South Korean companies that have expressed interest in adding or expanding their presence in the United States. The companies are Kisan Electronics, which makes currency counting separators; the Vitzro Group, which has a small presence in Cumming with its IUS Technologies company; and SooAm Biotech Research.

“We tried to get a better understanding of what they do, what their growth plans are, and what we have in Cobb,” Lee said. “We agreed to continue to work with them as they go forward.”

Lee said his goals for the trip were to solidify a relationship with that city’s Chamber of Commerce, initiate a relationship with their travel and tourism officials, meet individually with interested businesses, and host an investment seminar with a group of businesses, all of which they did.

“We put a sign on their Chamber’s door indicating they are an official representative of the Cobb Chamber to the businesses of Seongdong-Gu and Seoul,” Lee said.

Britton, the Cobb Chamber head, said his first trip to South Korea was “an eye-opening experience.”

“It has got to be one of the five strongest economic engines in the world, that city,” he said. “There are cranes everywhere. It’s mind-boggling. It’s just amazing the growth and activity that’s going on over there. And it’s coming from all over the world.”

Britton said about 50 companies attended the investment seminar, where he and the other delegates spoke about Cobb’s live-work-play environment.

“There was a lot of interest from them on economic conditions in the United States, but also a lot of interest on the education side; what would their children have access to as it relates to education. In each case, we were able to address those very, very well,” Britton said.

But Lee and Britton said they don’t expect any of the companies to locate in Cobb immediately.

“I’d say within five years,” Lee said.

Lembeck, Marietta’s school superintendent, said she signed a memo of understanding for a partnership with the Seongdong-Gu school district.

“The official partnership signing was done with great ceremony,” she said. “In addition, I was able to visit some very good schools and universities and really have great discussions — with an interpreter, of course.”

This was her second trip with others from Cobb to the sister city.

The South Koreans provided the lodging, buses, translators and a tour guide and hosted dinners. Corporate donations paid for gifts given to the Koreans, which included a Steve Penley painting and commemorative coins.

Lee’s campaign funds covered his airfare costs, and he said the only county money spent on the trip was $1,500 for Hughes’ airfare.

Lembeck and Britton each paid for their own airfare.

Cobb school district officials said professional development funds paid for McNeill’s airfare and that the Walton Foundation, from funds other than parent donations, paid for Manguno’s airfare.

This was the fourth trip made by a delegation from Cobb to Seongdong-Gu.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
cobb losers
October 24, 2012
Lee, leave the good people of South Korea alone. They don't want what you're peddling . They are far more mindful, modern and sophisticated than the folks in Cobb. It would be culture shock to send those folks to the backwards cities such as Marietta and Smyrna and eating horrid fried chicken and swimming with elderly child molesters.

Their schools actually teach them to use their brains. They are highly skilled , respect the environment and have an eye toward the future.

Maybe THEY could teach Cobb how to take better care of itself. It sure is looking 3rd world lately! Not so attractive to businesses of the future!
October 24, 2012
Just who do these guys think they are kidding? I would suggest that their wives have them tested for STD's!
October 23, 2012
It appears that this was not a well planned trip.

Commissar lee brought no jobs back to Cobb.
October 23, 2012
Lee reportedly now wishes to build a light rail line from the Galleria area to Seongdong-Gu.
October 23, 2012
Most productive visit yet?

I get the impression that no concrete result have been realized thus far.

I wonder what their definition of productive is?


Lee and Britton said they don’t expect any of the companies to locate in Cobb immediately.

“I’d say within five years,” Lee said.

So does that mean that there are going to be five more junkets before any Korean companies are going to locate here?

Wouldn't it make more sense for the Koreans to come here and see in person what Cobb can offer?
Sunny Park
October 23, 2012
Korean delegate was at Cobb last year, and will be here next year. Cobb and Seongdong Gu students benefitted most from the relationship so far, 300 plus students interacted each other, a few Cobb students founded jobs in Korea already. Investing in Cobb by Korean businesses will take time, and it may happen sooner than five years in my opinion. Cobb is still unknown to Korean investors but Cobb sister city Seongding Gu has been and still advocating the business opportunities in Cobb.

Some may think that they went to a tour but sitting in a tiny economy airplane seat for 15 hours, and filling non-stop day and night schedule in a foreign country is hard labor.

Cobb residents should show their appreciation for the passion and hard work the Cobb delegation and leaders of Seongdong Gu, the hosting party.

I live Fulton County, but I joined the effort, with my money and time, just because I was impressed with the passion and enthousiasm among the leaders of Cobb.
@Sunny Park
October 23, 2012
Don't even bother with the people on these comment forums. They complain complain complain. It's part of their therapy. Especially if there is a story about Lee. I am convinced it is just Bill Byrne and Bob Ott.
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