Roanoke celebrates South Korean sister cities connection

Roanoke and Wonju have been sister cities for more than 50 years

By Brittny McGraw - Anchor

ROANOKE, Va. - This year's Winter Olympics has the world's attention on PyeongChang, South Korea, and a city about 43 miles away has also captured the attention of Southwest Virginia.

Wonju, in South Korea's Gangwon province, has been one of Roanoke's sister cities since the 1960s.

"There was a fabulous doctor who spent time in Wonju and in Roanoke as well, and he brought the two cities together, " said Lisa Soltis, an economic development specialist with the city of Roanoke. "We've been sister cities ever since," Soltis said.

Soltis was a part of a delegation that traveled from Roanoke to Wonju in 2015 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that bond.

"It's nice to be able to establish those relationships," Soltis said.

Those relationships have continued to grow and include student exchanges between Yonsei University's Wonju campus, Radford University and Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Four nursing students from Wonju are wrapping up a two-week study at Radford University.

"Even though the languages are different I think the learning is the same," said Julie Kim, a senior nursing student from Wonju.

The students have spent their time at Radford taking classes and visiting local hospitals. They've also been keeping an eye on the Olympics in PyeongChang.

Wonju is one of seven sister cities Roanoke has through Roanoke Valley Sister Cities.

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