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The Peninsula

Will the Midterm Elections See the Second Korean-American Elected to Congress?

Published November 5, 2018
Category: South Korea

By Troy Stangarone

In 1992, Jay Kim was elected from the newly drawn 41st Congressional District in Southern California, becoming the first Korean-American elected to Congress. As Americans go to the polls for the midterm elections, there is a real chance that a Korean-American will be elected to Congress for the first time since former Congressman Jay Kim left office in 1999. Should one of the Korean-American candidates running for office win, they would become just the second Korean-American elected to Congress.

The following is a brief bio on each of the Korean-Americans hoping to win a seat in Congress on November 6:

Andy Kim (D), NJ-3: Andy Kim is running for in the 3rd Congressional District of New Jersey where he is hoping to unseat the current incumbent Tom MacArthur. Kim is a former Rhodes Scholar who has worked as a conflict specialist for U.S. Agency for International Development during the George W. Bush administration. During the Obama administration he advised Generals John Allen and David Petraeus in Afghanistan and later served as the director for Iraq at the National Security Council.

Pearl Kim (R), PA-5: Pearl Kim is running in the newly reconfigured Pennsylvania 5th Congressional district. The Pennsylvania 5th became an open seat when Congressman Patrick Meehan resigned earlier this year and Pennsylvania’s Congressional districts were reconfigured based on a State Supreme Court ruling. Both Kim and her opponent are also running to fill the remainder of Congressman Meehan’s term in the old 7th district.  Kim entered the race after a career as a special victim’s prosecutor for Delaware County District Attorney’s Office where she served as an Assistant District Attorney she took a special interest in victims of human trafficking and in the State Attorney General’s office where she worked on cases related to opioids and campus safety. Her work on human trafficking lead to her being named to a special state commission that made proposals for revising Pennsylvania’s human trafficking statue. In addition to her work on human trafficking, Kim has worked on criminal justice reform and ensuring that immigrants had proper access to language services in court.

Young Kim (R), CA-39: Young Kim is running in California’s 39th Congressional district and seeks to succeed Congressman Ed Royce who currently serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Kim previously served as in the California State Assembly representing the 65th District. As a Member of the States Assembly, she introduced legislation protecting victims of domestic violence that passed with bipartisan support.  She began her public career when she worked for Congressman Royce as his Director of Community Operations. Prior to working in the public sector, she was a small business owner and a financial analyst.

Thomas Oh (R), VA-8: Thomas Oh is running in the northern Virginia Congressional district currently represented by Congressman Don Beyer. Oh enlisted in the Army while still in high school and became an Airborne Ranger in the Army and continues to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves. He is currently studying for his MBA at George Mason University.

Keep tuned in Tuesday night to see if any of these candidates are elected to serve as the next Korean-American in Congress.

Troy Stangarone is the Senior Director for Congressional Affairs and Trade at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from Amanda Walker’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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