Maryland has successfully secured half a million COVID-19 test kits from South Korea, thanks to the efforts of Yumi Hogan, the state’s first lady.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan recognized his wife’s significant contribution during a press conference on Monday, making sure the credit went to her and not the federal government.
Yumi, who reportedly capitalized on her Korean heritage to secure the much-needed kits, was born in South Korea and became an American citizen in 1994. She had apparently established a connection with South Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Lee Soo Hyuk under an initiative called “Operation Enduring Friendship.”
Using her native Korean language, Yumi helped in negotiating the deal during the 22 days she and the governor coordinated with the Korean government, CNN reported.
“We convened countless calls, nearly every night, sometimes it seemed like all night,” the governor was quoted as saying. “She truly is a champion of Operation Enduring Friendship.”
The test kits, sourced from Korea’s LabGenomics, arrived at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Saturday via a chartered 777 Korean airplane. Maryland’s first couple welcomed the plane containing the test kits which will allow 500,000 locals to be tested.
“The administration made it clear over and over again they want the states to take the lead, and we have to go out and do it ourselves, and that’s exactly what we did,” Gov. Hogan said.
Yumi was an abstract painter when she met her husband about 20 years ago. They eventually tied the knot in 2004.
Having no background in politics, Yumi helped win the 2014 governor’s race by giving her full support during the campaign. His victory allowed her to become the first Asian American first lady in Maryland and the first Korean American first lady in any state in America’s history.