How to deal with the North’s provocations

Just like the tragic sinking of the Cheonan that claimed 46 Korean sailors’ lives, North Korea seems to be under the delusion that they can get away with their latest blatant and inhuman provocation.

This time, it was an artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, which not only killed Korean soldiers, but killed civilians and destroyed their homes as well.

North Korea, once again, claimed that South Korea initiated the attack, a major miscalculation on their part because nobody believes their claims. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

North Korea does not seem to realize that even their longtime ally China has grown weary of the criticism from the international community regarding North Korea’s repeated provocations. There have been unofficial discussions among some members of the Chinese Communist Party over whether it is worth continually defending North Korea.

This seems like a golden opportunity to create a chasm between those two countries. Not a single other country would take North Korea’s side; even Taiwan and Russia have condemned them, and Israel made a strong statement that “the crazy regime of North Korea should be brought down.”

Although China stopped just short of their own condemnation of North Korea, they stated that they are seriously concerned about the current tragic situation. The international community seems to support South Korea’s military actions as an act of self-defense allowed by international law, making North Korea look even worse.

As the chair of the G20 Seoul Summit, South Korea has shown that they can be leaders on a global stage, giving them credence amongst other major nations. The South should not allow this golden opportunity to raise its stature slip away.

However, there do not seem to be any satisfactory forms of retaliation. South Korea should avoid the outdated and passive types of sanctions, like reuniting separated families or stopping the Gaeseong Industrial Complex. But what would be the crucial blow?

The first action should be for South Korea to file an official resolution to the U.N. Security Council condemning North Korea and requesting immediate retaliation. It seems obvious that their indiscriminate murder of civilians is a clear violation of the U.N. charter and the armistice treaty.

This is exactly the kind of job that the Security Council was created for. This is the time for the council, criticized for their ineffectiveness, to show their leadership to the world.

After pressing the Security Council, South Korea (with the support of the U.S.) should take all-out sanctions against North Korea. This means that the entire world should cut off diplomacy or trades with North Korea. This would put China in a very uncomfortable position, in which they would potentially be the only country defending North Korea for their repeated provocations.

With a total lack of international support, it would be extremely difficult for China to invoke their veto power in the Security Council to keep defending their erstwhile ally.

Finally, a joint South Korea-U.S. resolution should be proposed to allow the U.N. to send their peacekeeping forces immediately to the Korean Peninsula to retaliate against any future North Korean provocations. If the U.N. will not keep the peace, then for what has it been created?

The main obstacle to getting these resolutions passed is the “veto” power given to five nations ― the U.S., France, England, Russia, and China.

The solution to this would be to reform the U.N. Security Council, eliminating that veto power and having every case brought before the council decided by a majority vote, or at least give the other nations the power to override a veto with a supermajority.

I believe that this aging Security Council should be overhauled and replaced with G20 members. If the U.S. and South Korea jointly initiate this reform, I believe the U.K. and France will come along.

This would give South Korea a position in the U.N. equal to China, as a member of the Security Council, and give them the power to prevent China from constantly vetoing actions against North Korea. The time has come to overhaul the staid, do-nothing U.N. and create something new on the international stage.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. Congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (


MBN 11/19/10

Jay Kim had an interview with MBN, where he said that it would be better to hold back an emotional response to the Korea-U.S. FTA issue. He also suggested that it would be better to propose as a compromise readjustment of the car tariff issue after three years.

(10) Why did I choose the Republican Party?

The two-party system has been successful in the U.S. for the last 200 years. It is quite different from Korea where almost 50 parties have come and gone since its liberation in 1945.

The third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic – Republican Party, one can say, was the predecessor of the Democratic Party.

Jefferson is one of the most respected presidents in U.S. history. He was a devout Christian and scholar who wrote the Declaration of Independence. He founded the University of Virginia and was vice president during the second President John Adams’ term.

He was a hero who was elected as president twice in a row. However, after 200 years, it was revealed that he had an illegitimate relationship with Sally Hemings, a young slave girl, which has left something of a stain on him in the judgment of history.

The Republican Party was established in 1860 by the 16th President Abraham Lincoln, who is revered as the greatest president in American history.

So, even now, the first thing to face when one visits the office of the Republican Party is the big portrait of President Lincoln. Of course, the office of the Democratic Party has the portrait of Thomas Jefferson on its wall.

Ironically, even though the founder of the Republican Party, Lincoln, fought the Civil War to end slavery, more than 90 percent of black Americans have left the Republican Party and sided with the Democratic Party. Other minorities (Hispanic, Jewish, Asian) also overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party.

Then, why did I, an Asian, join the Republican Party? I did it because of the fundamental difference in ideology, especially economic policy between the Republican Party (conservative) and the Democratic Party (progressive).

One of the fundamental economic policies of the U.S. is to minimize the gap between the rich and the poor and sustain a strong middle-class. However, the two parties differ in their methods to accomplish this.

Democrats claim that if left alone, the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, which results in the inheritance of wealth and poverty. So, they claim that a big, strong government is needed for those who have to depend on it.

On the other hand, Republicans claim that the problem of poverty should be solved by job creation from economic growth and excessive redistribution of wealth by the government decreases motivation to work.

I observed what happened when Democrat Jimmy Carter was the president. People began to believe that the rich exploit the poor to accumulate their wealth, and claimed that a good bit of their wealth should be returned to the government and redistributed to the exploited poor.

As redistribution gained its legitimacy, productivity decreased and free-riders increased in society. Due to anti-business sentiments in the U.S., corporations stopped investing, and some of them started investing in foreign countries with cheap and reliable labor.

As a result, the Carter administration ran short of budget due to the continuous demand of distribution, and the cost was covered by tax from businesses.

The administration raised the highest income tax rate to 70 percent, which still wasn’t enough to cover the shortfall; it had to reduce even its defense budget.

Having crossed the Pacific with nothing in hand, I had to work my way through schools without any benefit from the distribution policies of the government, since I was a foreigner.

Despite the great language barrier and cultural difference, I worked hard and paid taxes. Watching some of those who did not work but received government benefits just because they were born in the U.S. made me angry.

When farms in California were bringing thousands of workers from Mexico to meet the shortage of labor, healthy young men, for the reason that they could not find jobs, and single moms, for the reason that they could not go to work with more than two kids, received the money that others had worked hard to earn; I could not help get angry at this.

I didn’t mind helping poor Americans, but I believed that this kind of support should have a proper limit. This is the policy of the Republican Party.

Fortunately, Republican Ronald Reagan cut the highest income tax rate from 70 percent to 39 percent (the current rate is still 39 percent) as the first thing he did after his overwhelming win. I joined the Republican Party right away.

Later, as a Republican, I won by a great margin the city council election in Diamond Bar City which was the fifth richest in LA County and its residents were mostly white. It was because my way of thinking was the same as theirs.

This was during my first term. One day, a strange call came to my district office. The caller was a white supremacist. He said that his family has supported the Republican Party generation after generation, but it was shameful to have an Asian like me to represent a white district.

He demanded that I give up reelection. I thought “Even these days, are these kinds of crazy people still strutting around?”

Some time later, the Japanese American Citizens League requested a meeting with me. This organization which is the most powerful in California mainly consists of the second or third generation Japanese Americans.

Three women and a man who came from this organization told me that if I change my party from the Republican Party which is known for its racism to the Democratic Party, then they would help.

Of course, I rejected this proposal. Since then, I continued to have conflicts with them, and they have turned their backs on me in every election.

The white supremacists in the Republican Party threatened me and told me to go back to Korea. Asians demanded I change to the Democratic Party.

I thought doing politics would be easy in Korea because of the lack of racism, but instead, regionalism there seemed to have taken its place as a chronic sociopolitical problem.

It came to me that no matter where you are, politics is never easy because it contains so many problems such as classes and factions.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. Congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (

After watching G20 summit – The Korea Times 11-17-10

The G20 Seoul Summit ended on Nov. 12 with an agreement by the leaders of the participant countries over the core issue of exchange rates.

The countries decided that the rates would be determined by the market, an agreement not much different from the last G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in Gyeongju.

While this market-determined currency exchange system is not a bad idea, it has left out U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s bold proposal to keep a surplus or deficit of the current-account balance of a country below 4 percent of its GDP.

This system, without Geithner’s proposal, feels like flat beer to me; I think it was left out because of strong opposition from China and Germany.

The failure of the U.S. to carry out its current-account balance proposal has led to speculation that President Obama’s power has decreased on a global level after the crushing defeat of his Democratic Party in the Nov. 3 midterm elections. It’s not just the issue of the current-account balance, either.

The postponement of setting a clear guideline to solve the global economic imbalance to next year’s G20 summit in Cannes, France, is not a good plan either.

The Democrats don’t have much to say against the criticism that they avoided a complicated issue by leaving out concrete plans that would be determined in the later meeting.

I agree with the resolution to refrain from artificial currency devaluations for the purpose of increasing exports. However, I wonder how effective this would be, considering the previous cases of currency devaluation to which each country resorted during its economic crises.

From this perspective, concerns about a China-U.S. trade war still remain, even after the G20 summit. The only positive result seems to be the postponing of crucial issues to next year’s summit, adopting the compromise purely as a stoppage measure.

Obama’s return to the U.S. will not be pleasant, as he is returning empty-handed, without a good result from the G20 summit, and without an agreement from the negotiations for the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) ― an agreement he set a deadline to finish by the end of the G20 summit.

It is hard for me to understand Obama’s strong remarks about the FTA, that he could not allow American cars to be blocked by Korea’s non-tariff barriers.

It seems apparent that he is not fully aware that U.S. autos are not popular with Korean consumers, and that the real cause for the failure of the negotiations was the U.S.’s insistence on the additional opening of the Korean beef market, a concession Korea cannot accept.

The Obama administration now faces a predicament. Given the situation, it could be a bad signal to the rest of Asia that Obama left the G20 summit without successful results in the additional negotiations on the Korea-U.S. FTA pact that was signed by both countries in June 2007.

I believe that Korea must do the right thing and help Obama, the president of our core allied country, when he is in trouble.

I also believe it would be better to find a compromise that shies from the hard-line approach of “no renegotiation on beef, even if it costs the FTA.”

Being a Republican, I don’t agree 100 percent with the policies of the Democrat Obama, but I do believe that Korea got all of the major concessions from the G20 summit and the U.S. got nothing.

It’s possible that allowing U.S. beef from cattle over 30 months old could draw criticism in Korea of being pushed around by the U.S., maybe even leading to another candle-light protest.

With that in mind, since the domestic consumption of U.S. beef has been increasing; why not propose a compromise to hold renegotiations on the issue in one year?

Just like how the G20 summit put off complicated issues like exchange rates until next year’s summit, I think it would be appropriate to postpone negotiations on the beef issue between Korea and the U.S. to next year. This is a “win-win” strategy for both countries.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. Congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (

The views expressed in the above article are those of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Korea Times.

(9) Impeachment of president

U.S. Congressman Jay Kim shakes hands with President Bill Clinton, left, in this undated photo. / Korea Times file

By Jay Kim

The most shameful day in the history of Korean politics is probably March 12, 2004, when the National Assembly passed the impeachment of then-President Roh Moo-hyun to suspend his presidency.

On the surface, the reasons for the impeachment were: his disturbing the nation’s law and order, wrongdoings that he and his closest aides committed, the resulting lack of ethical justification, and causing economic crisis.

Instead of these, however, I think the primary spark came from the needless campaign pledge President Roh made that he would resign if he had received at least one-10th of the illegal presidential campaign fund the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) received.

This led to the GNP’s attack that he should resign since he received more than that, and to the impeachment in the end.

Fortunately, after two months (May 14), the Constitutional Court decided that there was no violation of law to disturb the foundation of the nation and dismissed the impeachment. Otherwise, it would have caused big chaos and division in the nation.

In the 230 years of the history of U.S. politics, only two presidents were impeached by the House ― the 17th President Andrew Johnson and the 42nd President Bill Clinton. Andrew Johnson was vice president during President Lincoln’s term.

At the time, Lincoln succeeded in his reelection (May 4, 1865) getting overwhelming support after his victory in the Civil War. Just a month and 10 days after his inauguration (April 4), he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., which made Johnson president by virtue of the Constitution.

As it happened, the name of the vice president who became president due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is also Johnson (Lyndon Johnson). What was the real reason behind the impeachment of Johnson who succeeded Lincoln who is revered as the greatest president of the U.S. history?

Unlike Korea, the president does not have the power to make the final decision on the appointment of his cabinet but can only recommend his candidates for his cabinet to the Congress.

Since the right of final decision belongs to the Congress, the president cannot remove, without the previous agreement of the Congress, a secretary on whose appointment the Congress consented.

President Johnson removed Defense Secretary Edwin Stanton without the consent of the Congress, which made staunch Republican members of Congress angry and led to his impeachment for violating the Constitution in 1868.

However, the real reason was the animosity of northern Republican members of Congress to his amnesty of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and chief general Robert E. Lee. Johnson avoided the impeachment by one vote in the Senate, but his political life was already over.

In the presidential election of the same year, the Democratic Party ignored him and nominated Horatio Seymour from New York, who terribly lost to Republican candidate Ulysses S. Grant.

Unlike the U.S., the confirmation hearing of a minster appointee in the National Assembly of Korea is nothing but a mere show. The president can appoint a minster at will without the consent of the Assembly.

I don’t know why they spend tax money on confirmation hearings which just put on shows. They look to me mere shows where the members just raise their voices and focus on calling down the other.

I voted, as my last vote in Congress, for the impeachment of President Clinton following the Republican Party line, but I was distressed because I liked him personally. After the vote, I even felt bitter about the lack of anonymous voting in the U.S. Congress.

Who is Clinton? He was born on Aug. 19, 1946. His father died in a traffic accident before his birth. He spent an unhappy youth under an alcoholic stepfather; however, he visited the White House as a Boy’s Nation Senator in 1963 to meet President Kennedy, which gave him a dream to become a politician.

He received his bachelor’s degree in foreign services from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and attended Oxford for a year as a Rhodes Scholar in 1968. He was drafted to the Army the next year; but he returned to England and protested against the Vietnam War in front of the U.S. Embassy.

Later, he returned to attend Yale Law School, where he met his wife Hillary. He became Arkansas attorney general; then he was elected as the governor of Arkansas at age 36, and became the youngest governor in U.S. history.

I met him several times. He always welcomed me even if I was a Republican; I was amazed at and fond of him remembering the names of my family.

Beautiful women were always around him. It’s not just one or two who claimed that she had a secret relationship with Clinton. His endless sex scandals, including his scandal with the young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, were the problem.

At last, Republican members of Congress decided to impeach him for the piled-up sex scandals; the reason was that he dishonored previous presidents and behaved below the standards of a president in the cherished White House.

On Dec. 19, 1998, the House passed the bill of impeachment. Only two out of four charges (perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice) passed.

Even if only one of the four passed in the House, the impeachment is possible. Two passed charges were notified to the Senate.

To finalize the impeachment in the Senate which has the final decision, 67 votes, two-thirds of the Senate votes, are needed. However, the charges passed in the House were both dismissed in the Senate, and Clinton could avoid impeachment.

Since Clinton’s popularity among the people was near 70 percent, most predicted that the bill of impeachment would not pass in the Senate. Finally, it ended as a symbolic impeachment in the House.

These days, the placards carried by candlelight protesters, saying “Out Lee Myung-bak, Impeach President Lee,” give me the creeps. It is not right to provoke the impeachment of the president this easily just because the president does not share their opinion.

Even in the U.S. there were only two cases of impeachment for 230 years, both of which were voted down. I hope there won’t be any more stains in the history of democracy in Korea.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. Congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (

Wednesday Journal 11/10/10

Jay Kim gave a lecture at Korean International School in Hong Kong on November 2. In his lecture, he emphasized the importance of the spirit of challenge and told the audience that they could achieve their dreams by setting clear goals and with continuous attempts to achieve them.