Snoopy comes to Jeju, a gift from sister city Santa Rosa
Snoopy comes to Jeju, a gift from sister city Santa Rosa
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Snoopy has arrived on the shores of Jeju.

A gift from the City of Santa Rosa, California, with the permission of Craig Schulz whose father Charles was the creator of this American icon, it is the first official Snoopy statue to be positioned in Korea.

Santa Rosa and Jeju City have had a sister city relationship since 1996. The 76-centimeter statue traveled with and was personally delivered by Don Taylor, resident of Santa Rosa and honorary citizen of Jeju Province.

Taylor is a well-known figure on Jeju. A restauranteur in Santa Rosa, he made his first visit here in 2002. At that time, Jeju was offering to send two 3m-tall dolharubang (“stone grandfather”) statues to the US city, and in return they requested that American entertainers be sent to perform at the annual Jeju Daeboreum Fire Festival.
Taylor attended Jeju's festival and says that he was “embarrassed” to note the absence of American representation in the midst of entertainment from a variety of other countries. As a result of his visit, he returned to his home city and became president of the sister city program.

Following an impassioned speech to the Santa Rosa City Council, Taylor raised $10,000 in donations within two days and a US dance troupe participated in Jeju's next Fire Festival. The stone statues arrived in Santa Rosa in May of 2003. They are the first dolharubang statues to be placed outside of Korea.

Taylor quickly made friends on Jeju and involved himself not only in building the relationship between the two cities but in Jeju's welfare.

Through his friendship with Im Aeduk, Jeju native and director of AeSuhWon Sisters' Heights Center for Single Mothers in Chungsu, Taylor was introduced to a local orphanage where he began sponsoring one young child called Sohye. Later, he also agreed to sponsor her best friend, Juhee.

MBC and KBS produced special reports on his efforts at the time that he began sponsoring the orphaned child. When Taylor, who is overcome with emotion whenever talking about the orphanage, returned to host a birthday party for young Sohae, MBC ran a 15-minute special program on the event.

Four years ago, in further collaboration between Im and Taylor, the Global Youth Leadership Conference was born. Taylor has served as its keynote speaker each year, this year on July 9th.

Over the years since the dolharubang statues were given to Santa Rosa by Jeju, and American entertainers began performing annually at the fire festival here, other such gestures of friendship have been made between these sister cities.

In 2006, the 10th anniversary of this cultural exchange program, a group of young artists from each city traveled to the other where they created a mural. To further commemorate the anniversary, Jeju sent another basalt statue to Santa Rosa, this one of the iconic traditional Jeju woman carrying a heobeok or water jar on her back which functions as a water fountain.

Delegates traveled from Jeju to Santa Rosa and dedicated the statue during the city's famed Rose Parade and Festival.

Last year Susan Gorin, then mayor of Santa Rosa, traveled to Jeju with the Maria Carillo High School Jazz Choir, who performed in the island's Fire Festival. Previous Santa Rosa mayors have also visited, such as Bob Blanchard in 2007.

Last summer, 17 Jeju students were chosen to travel to, tour and study in Santa Rosa.

The City of Santa Rosa also named one of its streets “Jeju Way.” In memory of the late Bukjeju Mayor Shin Chul Ju, a strong advocate of this sister city relationship, a street in Jeju is now being chosen to bear the name of Santa Rosa.

Snoopy will be placed near the Jeju Provincial Government complex. As the Snoopy figure has typically been portrayed atop a red doghouse since its 1951 conception, Jeju's version of Snoopy will be placed on a similarly shaped pedestal which evokes Jeju themes.

The design of the pedestal, to be created by local artisans, has not yet been fully determined. Taylor has presented his ideas to Jeju City Mayor Kim Byoung-Lib, and the president of the sister city committee will bring those ideas to a regular meeting of Jeju architects for further advice.

The end result will represent the intersection of two cultures in such a way as the Snoopy figure has never been depicted before.

An official dedication ceremony is scheduled for February of next year, to coincide with Jeju's annual Fire Festival. Several Santa Rosa city officials are expected to visit Jeju at that time.

From the Santa Rosa City Council, regarding its relationship with Jeju: “The purpose of the sister cities program is to increase international understanding and foster goodwill and world peace by furthering communication and exchange....”

Don Taylor, in his extraordinary efforts of goodwill toward Jeju, has long served as an 'ambassador' of sorts for his American city. He is proud to be Jeju's “Honorary Citizen No. 501.”

Dr. Hilty is a cultural health psychologist.  <Jeju Weekly>

<Anne Hilty ⓒ Jeju Weekly All rights reserved>

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