Go to contents

As More Korean-Americans Vote, Politicians Take Note

Posted October. 14, 2005 07:36,   


A flock of U.S. politicians descended on Chodae Korean Church located in the northern New Jersey town of Norwood early Sunday morning.

Scott Garrett, an emerging republican representative, and Gordon Johnson, a democratic state assemblyman, were among them. Mayors of nearby Tenafly, Norwood, and Demarest also attended the service.

They came to see their constituents before the elections on November 8 for New York mayor and New Jersey governor. On the same day, the Korean American Voters Council (KAVC) ran a voter registration campaign in big Korean churches. On this day, the saying: “Where there are votes, there are politicians” rang true.

Recently, a growing number of Korean-Americans are becoming aware of the need to raise voter turnout to enhance influence of the Korean community in the U.S.

An estimated two million ethnic Koreans live in the U.S. If those who own U.S. citizenship cast their votes, they can affect U.S. politics and even influence U.S. Korean Peninsula policy.

According to the KAVC, which leads the Korean-American community’s voting efforts in the U.S., the turnout of Korean Americans increased from seven percent in 1994 to 23.5 percent in 2004. However, it is still far lower than that of other ethnic minorities. To cast a ballot in the U.S., voters have to undergo a complex registration process.

The director of the KAVC Kim Dong-seok said, “Jewish voter turnout is as high as 78 percent, and they maximize their influence by building a consensus on some important issues and casting uniform ballots.”

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com