Gov. Kemp Accepts James A. Van Fleet Award from The Korea Society

Staff Report

Thursday, September 21st, 2023

At The Korea Society’s 2023 Annual Dinner, Governor Brian P. Kemp today accepted its signature honor, the James A. Van Fleet Award, on behalf of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). Governor Kemp also delivered keynote remarks, highlighting the depth of the relationship and opportunity between the State of Georgia and the Republic of Korea. Established in 1992, the General James A. Van Fleet Award is awarded annually “to one or more distinguished Koreans or Americans in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the promotion of U.S.-Korea relations.” It is one of the most prestigious awards in the field of U.S.-Korea affairs.

“The strong and enduring partnership between Georgia and Korea is rooted in a shared value of innovation and hard work,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “My first economic development mission as governor was to Korea, and for Georgia to be the first state to receive this great honor alongside the former U.S. presidents, diplomats, and business icons who have been presented with this award in previous years is a true privilege. On behalf of the Department of Economic Development and all Georgians, we thank The Korea Society and the many Korea-based companies we work with daily to deliver record-breaking job creation and investment as a result of this special relationship."

Alongside the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) also received a 2023 Van Fleet Award. The 2023 awardees join a distinguished group of previous recipients, including former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter; former South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung; former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Henry Kissinger; native Georgian and four-star General Raymond G. Davis of the U.S. Marine Corps; organizations including The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LG, and General Motors; corporate leaders like Hyundai Chairman Mong-Koo Chung, Samsung Chairman Kun-Hee Lee, SK Chairman Tae-won Chey, and CJ Group Chairman Kyung-Shik Sohn; and other prominent Koreans and Americans. The Korea Society is a nonprofit organization that has promoted greater awareness, understanding, and cooperation between the U.S. and Korea for over 65 years.

“We are entering a new phase of the multifaceted, dynamic relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea. The Georgia Department of Economic Development and KITA have been an integral force in the flourishing of U.S.-Korea economic ties. Both awardees are serving to enhance trade and investment between the two countries, creating high-paying jobs in American communities and securing supply chains in critical technologies,” said Thomas Byrne, President and CEO of The Korea Society.

To advance statewide business development opportunities, the Georgia Department of Economic Development has fostered international relationships, including with Korea, where the state opened an office in 1985. Today, at least 144 facilities with Korean parent companies operate in the state. For the last three years, Korea has committed to creating more jobs in Georgia than any other country through foreign direct investment. Over the last decade, Korean investment has exceeded $23.6 billion through economic development projects. Total trade reached $13 billion in 2022.

“Georgia’s long-term commitment to diplomatic, cultural, and business engagement in Korea has supported transformative growth over decades, providing economic benefits for both countries,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “This is a revolutionary moment in our history, and the priority we’ve placed on mutual partnerships, connectivity, responsiveness, and education has positioned us to maximize our leadership position to pave the way to a brighter future for generations to come. Many thanks to the Korea Society of this amazing recognition, and to Governor Kemp for supporting our efforts at every turn.”

Governor Kemp and the State of Georgia were introduced at the event by the President and COO of Hyundai Motor Company and the President and CEO of Hyundai and Genesis Motor North America, José Muñoz, as well as Kia Georgia President and CEO Stuart Countess. Billions of additional investment dollars and tens of thousands of Georgia jobs in the mobility industry are a result of investments from their companies. Along with job creators from over 50 countries, firms from Korea that operate in Georgia have helped to create one of the most advanced statewide manufacturing hubs in the U.S. Companies range across diverse industries, including but not limited to SK Group, CJ Foodville, Kumho Tire, LG, POSCO, and Hanwha Qcells.

Korea has maintained a Consular presence in the State of Georgia since 1976. Three Georgia communities have sister city agreements with South Korea: Atlanta with Daegu; Cobb County with Seongdong-Gu; and Gwinnett County with Gangnam-Gu.

A multitude of accessible options make transportation of goods and people between Georgia and Korea seamless. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport offers 12 weekly direct flights from Atlanta to Seoul, South Korea through Delta Air Lines and Korean Air. There are six international cargo flights per week between Incheon, South Korea, and Atlanta. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) in Savannah has an established relationship with ports of Korea and offers seven regular shipping services to the Port of Busan. GPA’s Brunswick Port also offers shipping services to Incheon, Masan, Pyongtaek, and Kunsan.