MUKILTEO — Come for the kimchee and stay for the kinship.
Jason Moon is inviting the town and beyond to Korean American Appreciation Day on Saturday at Kamiak High School.
The gathering has been a goal for Moon, 40, since he was appointed to the Mukilteo City Council in early 2022.
“Mukilteo has one of the largest Korean populations in Washington state at 8.2%,” Moon said. “A majority aren’t very active in the community. This is to introduce them to the community and give them a little nudge to be involved and at the same time bring others to learn about Korean culture.”
Restaurants are donating Korean favorites such as bulgogi and kimchee. There will be taekwondo demonstrations, traditional Korean dance and hip hop. Speakers include Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine and the city’s police chief, Cheol Kang.
The date was chosen in honor of Korean Independence Day, a celebrated holiday on Aug. 15 in Korea.
Saturday’s event will be inside the main entrance at Kamiak. Student volunteers are assisting.
The event is the first for the newly formed Mukilteo Korean Community Association.
“A few really passionate 80-year-old men approached me. They were like, ‘We are so proud of you. We are so glad there is someone out there to be our voice,’” Moon said.
Robert Kim was among the senior gentlemen founders.
“We wanted to initiate some activities to be done by Korean Americans in this community. First we have to organize ourselves to participate in the larger American community,” said Kim, 85, a retired Western Washington University education professor. “We’ve been isolated from the main community.”
His wife, Kwang Oak Kim, is one of the Korean dancers in the group performing.
The association has members of all ages, including Moon and his generation.
“Koreans have self-reliance,” Moon said. “We have that pride where we try to do things ourselves without asking for help. Being a little shy or not confident in the language keeps them from going out and engaging in the larger community. Another part is they are busy working and do not have time.”
Moon is the first Korean American council member. He was selected from 10 applicants to fill the council seat vacated by the election of Marine for mayor. His interest was sparked while serving on the city’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission.
He tried to make a difference early on when he asked others to play nicely at council meetings.
“They weren’t being very professional, going back and forth, and it wasn’t something I was very proud of, especially being new on the council. People in the Korean community were like, ‘Oh, are they supposed to do that?’” Moon said. “I want to make sure if my kids were here they’d see a respectful conversation. Yes, we can have a heated conversation, but it’s always wise to be professional and respectful. … We’re here to represent the people and we need to show up with our best selves.”
Moon and his wife Veronica moved to Mukilteo in 2016 to raise their sons, Theo, 6, and Nathan, 3. He is a customer success account manager at Microsoft. His parents, who live in Mukilteo, immigrated from South Korea over 40 years ago and own Prince Cleaners, a dry cleaning business in Lynnwood. They work long hours every week.
His parents are closing their store on Aug. 13 to help with the event.
“This is also for them,” he said.
The event is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kamiak High School, 10801 Harbour Pointe Blvd., Mukilteo.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.
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