EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Dignitaries from different South Korean institutions held a roundtable discussion with local leaders this morning.

Among the topics of conversation included the similarities and differences between South Korea and the United States, and why the alliance is important for each country.

The event was held at the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce and featured speakers from the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) as well as the U.S. Department of State. Attendees included students from East Peoria Community High School and East Peoria city leaders.

Sang Kim, who is the director of communications for the KEI, said it’s important to highlight the alliance between South Korea and the United States.

“They’re two countries that share a lot of security, economics, and people to people ties that I think is important for people to know, and there’s also interest to learn more,” she said.

Kenneth Hoosen is the student body president for the class of 2024 at East Peoria Community High School. He enjoyed getting a glimpse into how a different country operates. Specifically, he brought up how in South Korea, male citizens aged 18-35 must serve a certain amount of time in the military.

Hoosen is interested in pursuing a career in politics and brought up how it’s important to see different perspectives. He is excited to see young people like himself interested in the political landscape.

“At the end of the day, we need countries to make the world work, and so having people involved in that to replace our past leaders is really important to prolonging our life force,” he said.

The KEI is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that, according to Kim, goes across the U.S. to discuss the importance of relations between South Korea and the United States.

“We do a lot of outreach programs outside of D.C. because this is a big country and D.C. doesn’t represent the whole country.” She continued, “We’re happy to be in Peoria and talk about the relationship and alliance.”