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Korean-Americans Press for Visa Waiver

Posted June. 01, 2006 03:00,   


Three leaders of the Korean expatriate community in New York state visited House Representative Gary L. Ackerman’s office located in Bayside, Queens, on May 30.

The three were the director of the Korean American Voters Council (KAVC) Kim Dong-seok, the Advisory Council for Korean Americans Chairman Chung Hae-min, and Lee Kyung-ro, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York (KAANY). They asked Ackerman to support a visa waiver program for Korean citizens. The program has been much talked about between Korea and the United States recently.

The Koreans called for the lawmaker’s collaboration, saying that inclusion of Korea into the visa waiver program would lead to a growing number of Korean travelers to the U.S., thereby contributing to the Korean American society and the U.S. economy.

The 12-term Democrat is an influential figure in the House of Representatives. Ackerman said he was well aware of the Korean government’s position on the visa issue and promised to play a leading role in enlisting support from fellow legislators based in New York.

Such a great support was seemingly aimed at winning the hearts of about 8,000 Korean voters in his constituency.

As this year marks its 10th anniversary, KAVC has set its sights on increasing the influence of Koreans by raising their voter turnout.

In the meeting, Ackerman praised the Korean expatriate community, saying that Koreans’ enthusiasm for their children’s education has helped raise the academic levels of public schools in his constituency to top the state.

A wind of change is blowing among American politicians on the visa waiver issue as they recognize the voting power of Korean American constituents.

Besides Ackerman, New Jersey congressman Scott Garrett and New York Rep. Joseph Crowley as well as other politicians in constituencies with large Korean populations expressed their commitment to support the visa waiver program.

Meanwhile, KAVC requested all house representatives to adopt a resolution holding the Japanese government accountable for the country’s sex slavery during the Second World War.

Director Kim of KAVC said that those who cast ballots matters most to American politicians, and that Korean Americans’ active participation in votes will help their home country achieve more.

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com