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Korean-American leader blasts opposition party over FTA row

Korean-American leader blasts opposition party over FTA row

Posted November. 18, 2011 01:57,   


The head of a Korean-American association based in Atlanta has criticized leading members of Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party for shifting their position on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.

“Under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, supreme council party member Chung Dong-young and chairman Sohn Hak-kyu came to the U.S. and asked leaders of Korean-American groups to support the Korea-U.S. FTA,” said Yoo Jin-cheol, president of the Federation of Korean Associations, USA., in a phone interview with The Dong-A Ilbo.

“They even asked us to lobby for the FTA with U.S. Democratic congressmen who opposed it. Now that Chung and Sohn are adamantly opposed to the FTA, many in the Korean-American community think that they have been mocked.”

“During the negotiations for the FTA in 2006 and 2007, we frequently received phone calls, email messages and letters from the Korean government asking us to campaign for the FTA. All Korea-American associations formed a special committee for the trade deal. Now, all those efforts are about to go down the drain.”

A resident of Atlanta, Yoo said, “Many Korean Americans including myself feel betrayed because of the behavior by some Democratic Party lawmakers (of Korea)in recent discussions on the ratification of the FTA. What should we tell U.S. congressmen whom we asked to support the FTA?”

As the head of the Foundation of Korean Associations in the southeastern U.S., he said he asked congressmen including Charles Rangel, James Clyburn and Charles Norwood to support the agreement.

“At a time when it is important for the Korean community in the U.S. to expand its political influence, I am concerned that (the delay in the accord`s ratification) might discourage U.S. congressmen from cooperating with the Korean community. From now on, we will reconsider cooperating with the Korean government on policy issues even if it asks us to.”

“Most U.S. congressmen and entrepreneurs whom I meet these days are well aware of the ongoing controversy over the investor-state dispute settlement system under the FTA. They wonder why the issue is so controversial now though when the FTA hasn`t been signed.”

Yoo added, “Near Atlanta, about 100 automotive companies including Kia Motors and Hyundai Motor have invested in plants. The companies can sue the U.S. government under the investor-state dispute settlement system. I think it`s outrageous to argue that the system will work only to Korea’s disadvantage.”