Chairing the Korea Community in Kenya

Mr. Kang on the left

We speak to the Chairperson of the Korea Community Association in Kenya.

Kindly introduce yourself.

My name is Mr. Kang SoonKyu and I am the current Chairperson of the Korea Community in Kenya. I came to Kenya with my family in 1994 after 2 years of working in Cameroon. Arriving in Kenya, I was quite surprised at what I observed. The climate, the development of cities and the well-built infrastructure were good compared to West Africa.

My company is Hankang Enterprises LTD. We deal with importation of Korean car parts.

I have served as the chairman of Korean community in Kenya for the last two years and will continue to serve for two more years.

Tell us a little about Korean Community in Kenya. When was it formed, and what are some of its key responsibilities.

Korean community in Kenya was founded in 1985. The purpose is to promote the development and welfare of Korean society through the ties and unity of Koreans in Kenya and also contribute to the development and friendship between Korea and Kenya.

How are you able to maintain that sense of togetherness as a community of Koreans? Do you have events where you meet or activities that you do together?

For the last two years, we have had singing and athletics contests for Koreans. We have also made a Korean address & telephone book to help us contact each other and interact more easily.

Sometime back, we help a photography contest and the winning picture was published in our calendars. A calligraphy contest was organized by the King Sejong institute at Kenyatta University that we had sponsored. Apart from interacting amongst ourselves in Kenya we also believe in giving back to the community we live in. For that reason we have sponsored the medical treatment of six disabled Kenyans are glad that we brought back some hope and joy into their lives.

What kind of work are most Koreans in Kenya doing?

There are about 1,300 Korean residents in Kenya, 60% of which work with missionaries & NGO’s. The rest are working in companies such as LG electronics, Samsung electronics, Sana industries (wigs), Solpia Kenya (wigs), other trading companies as well as travel agencies, restaurants, and construction companies. The missionaries and NGO’s are active in education, health care, agriculture, orphans care and many other fields.

What do you love about Kenya, and by large, what do you think most Koreans love about Kenya?

If you ask Koreans what they like about Kenya, the first answer would be the climate. The atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed unlike Korea where everyone is always in a hurry. The mix of different cultures also makes it a great environment for their children to study in. This allows them to not only master foreign languages but to also live with people from other cultures and different traditions, making them all rounded.

Do you enjoy taking Kenyan food?

I mainly eat Korean food but I indulge in Kenyan food from time to time. I usually eat ugali, managu, githeri but my favorite is nyama choma with kachumbari.

As a group, how do you relate with the Korean Embassy in Kenya. Have they been supportive?

The Korean embassy in Kenya is cooperative and we have had good relations. They work hard to make things more safe and convenient for us. The Korean Ambassador to Kenya Hon. Kwon Young Dae also takes part in various activities with our community, aside from his diplomatic duties.

What is your dream of the Korea Community in Kenya? Also, what do you hope for the future of Korea-Kenya relations?

Korea and Kenya are steadily developing a strong relationship in diplomacy, economics and culture which I believe will continue to grow in future. To accelerate the growth, we hope to restart the direct flights that had been stopped between Korea and Kenya. I hope Koreans will settle here and contribute to the development of Kenya and Korea.

By Bhavisha Patel