One of the first Korean-American congresswomen wore a traditional Korean hanbok during her swearing-in ceremony
- Democratic Rep. Marilyn Strickland from Washington State wore a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, while being sworn into the 117th Congress on Sunday in Washington, DC.
- The representative told NBC News that one of the reasons she chose to wear the hanbok was to pay homage to her maternal heritage while her mother, Inmin Kim, was watching the ceremony on TV.
- "I knew that she'd be watching, and so I wanted her to see me wearing that, to honor my history and to honor her," Strickland told NBC News.
- Strickland is the first Black congressperson to represent Washington State at the federal level and is one of the first three Korean-American women to serve in the House of Representatives.
Democratic Rep. Marilyn Strickland of Washington, one of the first Korean-Americans elected to Congress, honored her heritage and "the importance of diversity" by wearing a traditional Korean hanbok for her swearing-in ceremony on Sunday.
Strickland's office said that she is the first representative to be sworn in wearing a Korean hanbok, The Hill reported. In an interview with NBC News, the lawmaker said of the hanbok: "It is something that you wear for a very special occasion. It is very traditional and historic."
Strickland shared a picture from the ceremony on Twitter, writing: "As a woman of both Korean-American and African-American descent, it was deeply personal to wear my Hanbok, which not only symbolizes my heritage and honors my mother, but also serves as a larger testament to the crucial importance of diversity in our nation, state, and the People's House."
—Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (@RepStricklandWA) January 4, 2021
The representative, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, told NBC News that one of the reasons she chose to wear the hanbok for the swearing-in ceremony was to honor her maternal heritage. Strickland said that while her mother, Inmin Kim, couldn't travel to see the ceremony in person, she knew that she was watching on TV.
"I wanted her to see me wearing that, to honor my history and to honor her," Strickland told NBC News.
Strickland made history in 2020 when she became one of the first three Korean-American women to be elected to the House of Representatives, according to The Hill. She is also the first Black congressperson to represent Washington State at the federal level.
Previously, Strickland served as Tacoma, Washington's first Black mayor, according to The Hill.
People took to Twitter to celebrate Strickland's display of pride for her heritage
Users took to Twitter to applaud Strickland after she shared her photo from Sunday's swearing-in ceremony. Some users who identified as Korean-American described the moment as "uplifting" and a moment of representation.
—Eugene Cho (@EugeneCho) January 5, 2021
—ᴮᴱJacob Kim (@fullofhype) January 3, 2021
—Naomi Ko (@konaomie) January 4, 2021
—lisaling (@lisaling) January 5, 2021
—sonni mun (@SonniMun) January 4, 2021
Other lawmakers have honored their heritage by wearing traditional garments while being sworn into Congress
In 2019, then-Democratic Rep. Debra Haaland of New Mexico wore a traditional Native American dress while being sworn into Congress. Her mother also wore a traditional outfit. Haaland became one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018.
"As a kid, I never could have imagined today. I will leave the ladder down behind me so girls of color know they can be anything they want to be," Haaland wrote on Instagram in 2019.
—Rep. Deb Haaland (@RepDebHaaland) January 3, 2019
Also in 2019, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan - who became the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress - wore a traditional Palestinian robe at the swearing-in ceremony, which prompted other Palestinian-American women to share photos of themselves on social media in traditional garments.
A representative for Strickland did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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