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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Korean-American mayor moves to South Korea to explore her roots, steps down from mayoralty

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Mayor Jenna Antoniewicz (center) holds a proclamation designating June 13, 2023, as “Jenna Antoniewicz Mayor’s Day” and smiles with the mayors of nearby cities who have signed the proclamation. [Jenna Antoniewicz Facebook]
The mayor of a small Pennsylvania town has decided to move to South Korea and step down from her position. While residents were saddened by the news, they applauded the mayor’s decision. This is the story of Mayor Jenna Antoniewicz of Royersford, a Korean-American adoptee who was re-elected as mayor.

According to the local newspaper The Mercury, Antoniewicz, who was adopted at the age of 1, resigned and will be moving to South Korea to explore her roots. She announced her resignation in May.

“Every adoptee has their own story, and if this were a Hallmark movie, this would be the happy ending, but it was just the beginning,” said Antoniewicz. “Now I was trying to figure out how to connect with strangers to whom I was related by blood, strangers I had not been looking for even a little bit.”

Last year, Mayor Antoniewicz tracked down her adoption paperwork and met her birth father in South Korea, which further fueled her decision to move.

In a fortunate turn of events, she was offered a job as an English teacher at Branksome Hall’s Asian campus, a prestigious all-girls school located on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Antoniewicz saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more about her Korean heritage and roots. She made the decision to move her entire family, including her husband and two children, to Jeju Island.

The citizens of Royersford were deeply saddened by the resignation of their beloved mayor. Antoniewicz ran for mayor in 2017 and won, making history as the first female mayor in the town’s 150-year history.

She was popular in the community and expressed her gratitude, saying, “We really fell in love with Royersford, that’s not just lip service. It’s really a great little town.”

On May 30, citizens of Royersford, along with the mayors of neighboring Pottstown, Hatboro, Lansdale, West Conshohocken, Narberth, and North Wales, gathered at the Royersford City Council meeting to bid farewell to Mayor Antoniewicz. Her term in office runs through June 13.

In a show of appreciation, the mayors of the neighboring cities issued a proclamation designating June 13, 2023, as “Mayor Jenna Antoniewicz Day” in each of their respective cities.

Antoniewicz, who was adopted to New York City in September 1984, was born in Mokpo, a southwestern port city in South Korea. Shortly after birth, she was placed in an adoption agency and arrived in New York at the age of 11 months.

BY YEOL JANG [support@koreadaily.com]