UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is one of the most recognizable figures the world over, but the veteran diplomat and South Korean national didn't have proof of his New York identity over the 13 years he has lived in the city -- until now.
Ban, flanked by Mayor Bill De Blasio and Ban's wife, Yoo Soon-taek, Tuesday joined hundreds of thousands of city residents who have signed up for IDNYC, the new passport of sorts providing cardholders with access and discounts to cultural institutions, banks, libraries and a host of city services in the five boroughs.
"I'm now able to call myself real New Yorker," Ban said after signing up for the card, taking a photo for it, and officially opening a pop-up center for UN personnel living in New York City to register for the card.
It is available for free through the end of this year to anyone, aged 14 years or older, who can document residency in the five boroughs. The center will remain open at the UN until July 10, but several other long-term enrollment centers exist in each borough.
Ban called de Blasio a "real people's mayor, citizens' mayor" and thanked him for supporting the UN. "We are very proud to work in this great city."
"The United Nations is a blessing to this world and certainly a blessing to the City of New York," DeBlasio said. "I think our participation today in the IDNYC effort sends a powerful message to people in communities all over the city that this ID is for them ... We're trying to send a message that if you're a New Yorker, you're a New Yorker. Period. It doesn't matter where you're from. It doesn't matter your documentation status."
The IDNYC program was originally conceived as a way to provide identification for immigrants without documentation, and its benefits have been promoted to the public to win wide acceptance for the cards.