"Main Streaming" and Participation in Politics and Government:|
State of Korean Americans in Year 2000
Tong Soo Chung
U.S. Department of Commerce
Korean Americans have made huge progress economically and in education and
professional advancement, but have hardly progressed politically.
Why political involvement?
Possible reasons for lack of involvement and progress in politics
- Can't claim to be full participants/citizens in this country without
having our voices heard and views represented -We need to be at the table
when decisions that affect our welfare are being made.
- Part of our interests also include the well being of Korea and Koreans.
How do we get more KAs involved in politics? We can address the above reasons for lack of involvement.
- Lack of financial rewards
- Lack of interest -education and upbringing
- Lack of sense of ownership in the U.S .Government -ownership brings responsibilities
- Lack of role models
- Lack of training opportunities -internships
- Difficulty in getting elected -requires dedication over a long period of time
Becoming an appointed official can be an option to those who do not want to
make the commitments necessary to get elected.
- Can't do much about the lack of financial rewards. Politics is not the right field if one
is looking to make money.
- Raising awareness of importance of politics -first among the parents, and then by
parents to their children. Thc same applies to the sojourner mentality that results
in the lack of sense of ownership, particularly among the first generation immigrants.
- We need to generate successful role medels and provide more training opportunities
for those young people who want to pursue this field. This requires institutionalization
and cooperation with other organizations outside the community, both political and
grass roots organizations.
Korean American Coalition as a case study
- Getting elected will always be difficult, but organized community efforts can reduce
the difficulty by bloc voting and fund-raising,
Interested candidates need to have a long term strategy.
Jay Kim case study -importance of decennial census and redistricting
Positioning and seizing opportunities
Appointed positions in federal and state governments
Career Civil Service
- There are full-time and part time appointments at federal, state and local governments.
- At the federallevel, highest level appointments require Senate confirmation. We have one such appointee,
Harold Koh at the State Department, Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Democracy.
- The recently announced Advisory Commission to the President for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative
includes two KA women appointees who will serve as part time commissioners without pay. Martha Choe is a
full time appointee of Governor Gary Locke in Washington.
The Greater Washington area has many civil servants, including KAs.
Government service can offer options to those who are interested in public
service as a career. Over time one can achieve positions of great importance
in terms of public policy making. In certain fields, such as international
trade, young persons can come in for a few years to obtain necessary training
or to broaden contacts and then leave for the private sector.
How can KAs become Stronger Politically?
Three Elements of Politics -Candidate, Votes and Money
Importance of a national KA advocacy organization with chapters across the country in areas
with major KA population
- Generation of viable candidates -education, training, internships, post-graduate fellowships
- Voter registration, education and mobilization
Case study of Hispanic Americans: Southwest Voter Project
Case study of California -How Hispanics have finally achieved political power in the second half of the 1990's
- Money-importance of fund-raising
Case study of American Jewish community
We do not have such an organization at this time that is recognized by both the mainstream as well as the KA communities.
Such organization should have multiple generations of KAs involved in leadership and membership.
- each chapter should function under similar goals with dedicated leadership and membership.
- should also have paid professional staff capable of delivering high quality service.
- first, second and 1.5 generations.
This page last updated 9/16/2006 jdb