DULUTH -- She worked for the government for three decades, becoming the first woman to head the finance department, before running for election to the highest local office.
So from her home halfway across the world, Yeon Hee Shin, mayor of Gangnam-Gu, South Korea, sent a letter earlier this year congratulating Gwinnett Chairwoman Charlotte Nash for her victory in a special election.
The two followed the same path in politics and each have a son and a daughter and two grandchildren.
On Thursday, the women bonded through a series of business meetings conducted by the Gwinnett Global Business Coucil and Chamber of Commerce, as the Gwinnett and Gangnam-Gu re-established a sister-city relationship.
"She feels with these commonalities between the two, she feels a stronger bond," a translator said, interpreting Shin's speech to Nash during a re-signing of the two-year-old sister-city agreement. "She would like (both communities) to prosper economicically but in cultural exchange as well."
At the ceremony at the Chamber building in Duluth, Nash made Shin an honorary citizen of Gwinnett, joking with her fellow finance colleague that the honor comes complete with a tax bill. She also gave the leader a collection of gold and silver U.S. coins.
For Nash, Shin brought a decoration from the Paekche dynasty, which dates back to the early sixth century. The 24-karat-gold decoration would be placed on the king's crown, she explained.
Gwinnett and Gangnam-Gu entered into the sister-city relationship two years ago, and officials have visited the communities on several ocassions, but this was the first trip since Shin and Nash took on their respective roles.
Nick Masino, the Chamber's vice president of economic development, said job creation spurred by the relationship is hard to quantify. But the cooperation has lead to a Korean official working at the Chamber building to help connect small business leaders, and Georgia now has an economic development office in Korea.
"The relationships we are building to the business communities in a number of Asian countries is important to what we are doing in economic development," said Nash, who may make a trip overseas in March to continue the rleationship. "I am thrilled to raffirm our sister-city relationship."