LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – 6,000 miles away a South Korean community erected a replica of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign in recognition of a local park that turns 30 this year.

In 1994, the City of Las Vegas finished building Ansan Sister City Park in respect of the sisterhood relationship with the port city of Ansan, South Korea—a partnership Former Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst recalls first spearheaded in 1987 by a Las Vegas city councilman.

“I have to give credit to Councilman Arnie Adamsen,” she said. “He had initiated a very vibrant sister city program, and now we have sister cities in the Philippines, China, Thailand, and in Korea.”

Ansan Sister City Park’s commemoration ceremony in 1999 was underscored by the establishment of a plaque at the foot of a 10-foot pergola in the style of a traditional Korean gate.

In 1994, the City of Las Vegas finished building Ansan Sister City Park in respect of the sisterhood relationship with the port city of Ansan, South Korea—a partnership Former Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst recalls first spearheaded in 1987 by a Las Vegas City Councilman Arnie Adamsen. (Credit: UNLV Collections)

At the center of the park, a statue was built of Mudong, which personifies the future view of Ansan City’s hope.

According to the plaque, Mudong was modeled after a “modern sense” with the sun on the right which symbolizes “a sun that does not set forever.”

“You try to bring their culture into your culture, in a meaningful way,” Jones Blackhurst said.

Jone Blackhurst pointed out that the sister city program brought with it commercial relationships and business connections that Las Vegas did not have before.

According to the plaque, Mudong was modeled after a “modern sense” with the sun on the right which symbolizes “a sun that does not set forever.” (Kim Jong-hwi)

“We were successful in attracting businesses back then,” she said.

Following the sisterhood Jones Blackhurst made a diplomatic visit to Ansan meeting with business leaders and local representatives.

“They were very respectful and very honored that we took the time to visit their city,” she said. “I felt very honored in the respect and the attention with everything—they took the time to show me about what it is like to live in Ansan.”

In 1999, Jones Blackhurst completed her term as Las Vegas mayor, the first woman to do so, and said the sister city program started to wane under the tenure of the next mayor, Oscar Goodman.

“They felt the sister city program wasn’t a useful expenditure of public money,” she said. “We could debate that forever, but I think the cultural exchange is about understanding.”

Ildong Park

In 1995, the City of Ansan built a copy of Las Vegas’s Angel Park with two towers covered with Las Vegas iconography as part of the cultural exchange.

The park was named Ildong Park which translates to English as “All Park”, a name meant to emphasize the unity between two different cultures.

Kim Jong-hwi, a citizen journalist from Ansan, replied to 8 News Now with photos and video of the children’s park which shares a relationship with Las Vegas.

“The people who live here have long called it Rabe for short,” Kim wrote. “That’s because the park is nicknamed Las Vegas Park.”

Teachers take students from Hodong Elementary outside to the nearby park to enjoy the playground equipment and hold classes, according to Kim.

“It is a space that helps elementary and junior high school students on their way to and from school, as well as after school games and activities,” Kim wrote. “It is a space that helps elementary and junior high school students on their way to and from school, as well as after-school games and activities.”

The walkways are also paved with cushioned concrete, which is surrounded by Oak, Walnut, and Zelkova trees, foliage specifically added due to their relationship with Nevada nature.

“Oak trees are known to be abundant in Las Vegas,” Kim said.

In 2019, residents in Ansan formed the “Revitalization Promotion Group” to renovate Ildong Park which resulted in a new commemorative sculpture in the shape of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign.

A stone tablet the shape of the state of Nevada reads:

“To commemorate the close sisterhood between Las Vegas and Ansan, the citizens of Las Vegas donate them to the citizens of Ansan. The park is a symbol of friendship and cooperation between the two cities.”

The tablet was originally located in the middle of the park but was moved underneath the new sign which also has a map to show residents where Las Vegas is located in the United States.

Jones Blackhurst reacted to photos of Ildong Park, hoping the impact of the relationship between the two cities continues to bring joy and connections.

“Think for a young Korean child, who may never leave Korea, but they have a place they can go, and they can see icons of Las Vegas that they see on their TikTok or their Instagram.” She said. “It’s meaningful, it brings the world closer together.”



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