Washington State House Democrats


Cindy Ryu makes history in Olympia

Ryu is the first Korean-American woman to serve in the Washington State Legislature

Jan. 11, 2011

OLYMPIA—History was made in the Washington state capitol on Jan. 10 when Cindy Ryu took the oath of office and officially became the state representative for the 32nd Legislative District, which includes Shoreline, Kenmore, Edmonds and other communities in North King and South Snohomish County.

Ryu became the first Korean-American woman ever to serve in the Washington State Legislature.

“I did not come to the Legislature to make history, I came to help make a better future for everyone in the diverse communities I serve,” Ryu said after being sworn in. “But I am proud of my Korean heritage and I am proud to be an American, so I do feel the honor of this special moment.”

Sen. Paull Shin (D-21st District) was the first Korean-American to serve in Washington’s Legislature.  He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1992 and to the Senate in 1998.

Ryu pointed out that Washington celebrated its fourth annual Korean-American Day in Olympia on Jan. 8, just two days before she was sworn in: “The event included an emotional visit to Washington’s Korean War Memorial, to remember the sacrifices that were made when freedom took a stand in Korea. There were also speeches and music and dancing under the Capitol Dome. People of all ages, from boys and girls to very senior citizens, waved Korean and American flags together to honor what America means for Korea and Korean-Americans, and to honor Korean contributions to America.”

This is the second time Ryu has set a political milestone. In 2006, she became the first female Korean-American mayor in the United States when she was elected mayor of Shoreline, Washington.

Ryu was born in Seoul, Korea. Her grandparents and parents had fled from what is now North Korea prior to the Korean War.  Her parents brought her and her three brothers to the United States, by way of Brunei and the Philippines. She was 12 when she arrived at SeaTac International Airport on Christmas Eve, 1969.

Ryu’s family settled in Gate, Washington in Thurston County. She graduated among the top ten in her class from Centralia High School and went on to earn a degree in microbiology and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington.

Cindy and her husband Cody have lived and worked in the North King and South Snohomish County area for more than 30 years. They built a successful business, and now own and manage retail and commercial buildings.

The couple’s daughters attended Edmonds and Shoreline Schools and graduated from the UW.  Their son attends Shorewood High.

Ryu was a Shoreline councilmember before being elected mayor of Shoreline in 2008. She is also a former president of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce.

# # #

Link to a photo of Sen. Shin welcoming Rep. Ryu to the Legislature:


Link to High Definition footage of the meeting between Rep. Cindy Ryu and Sen. Paull Shinn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Caqhfz2CEI