Former Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup was sworn in as the honorary consul to the Republic of Korea for Arizona Monday.
As honorary consul, Walkup’s mission is to “protect overseas Korean nationals” and “act as a liaison officer for the promotion of trade, economic, cultural, scientific and education relations, and the facilitation of commercial transactions and introduction of foreign capital.”
Walkup said he already has plans for his new role as honorary consul to Korea.
“I’ve already started pulling people together that have an active part in the game,” he said. “And the game is commerce and trade right now.”
The former mayor said “the first order of business” is to put “our products” in empty shipping containers traveling west through Tucson and consequently, make Tucson an international center for trade.
The Korean Consul General Yeon-sung Shin traveled from his base in Los Angeles to swear in Walkup at a ceremony hosted by the office of U.S Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz.
Shin, who met Walkup two years ago on his visit to Tucson, said Walkup has shown “great concern about” the Korean community and the Korean Americans living in Arizona.
Barber, who said he worked with Walkup many times over the years, was also optimistic about Walkup's new role.
“Honorary Consul Walkup is going to be able to help us establish a relationship with the Republic of Korea, a very industrious nation with a lot of businesses very similar to the businesses that we operate here, ” Barber said. “I think the opportunity for trade, perhaps even for Korean companies to locate here, is very large and he’s going to help make that happen.”
Walkup said he traveled to Korea when he worked in manufacturing and engineering, and has hosted Korean exchange students. He also said he is close to members of the Korean community in Tucson.
Yoohyun Jung is a University of Arizona journalism student and intern at Arizona Public Media.