Automotive Industry Bringing More Koreans to Montgomery


By Ashley Thompson

An auto supplier for Hyundai and Kia has broken ground on a brand new facility.

Ever since Hyundai opened its car plant in 2005, there's been a huge rise in Montgomery's Korean population and influence.

Sooon Kyung Lee owns a Korean Market on Eastern Boulevard.

She's been in Montgomery for 10 years but says recently, she's noticed more Korean businesses in her area.

"Yes, about seven or eight Korean restaurants in the area I've heard about," she says in broken english. "A lot of people enjoy, most are like American."

It's Korean businesses like Lees that are bringing people to Montgomery.

"We drive an hour from Troy and then we come here to buy some stuff," says Chunsun He.

Montgomery is now home to thousands of Koreans who've made their way from overseas. So Jeanne Charbonneau helps them better transition into life here. She works with the City of Montgomery to welcome these new immigrants by helping them find housing and schools for the children.

"Our goal is to make life pleasant, rewarding, and successful," Charbonneau says.

Charbonneau says the Korean population has been instrumental in strengthening Montgomery's economy.

"We have realtors that are Korean, you're aware of the number of restaurants opening up, we have hair dressers moving in," she explains.

Jeannie Kim is one of those hairdressers.

She came to Montgomery with her husband who works for Kia.

"My husband come in to Kia Factory, electric business now," says Kim. "I like Montgomery, yeah.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange says the city's Korean influence will only help bring even more industries to the River Region.

"Our schools, our religious community, there's so much Korean culture here now that it just makes it natural for continued expansion."

The Hyundai plant opened in 2005, with Kia following in West Point, Georgia about 80 miles away. These are the company's first car plants in the United States.


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