Pro-N. Korea lawmakers in Assembly

By Jay Kim

Korean politics seem to have reached a contentious limit. It seems just yesterday that people were criticizing the backwardness of Korean politics for dragging down the Korean economy, but now it has become a problem not just for the economy, but a crisis that threatens the national identity.

This crisis is caused by political establishments that only care about increasing their own power. In fact, the opening of the 19th National Assembly is still delayed due to the fight between opposing parties over the selection of chairpersons of the standing committees. The legal opening date, June 5, has passed, but there is no sign of matters settling down. Since the National Assembly, the legislative branch, does not follow the law, a group of pro-North Korea lawmakers are defying public pressure for their resignation, laughing at the National Assembly.

In the U.S. Congress, every chairperson of a standing committee is from the majority party. Not a single committee chair position is given to the minority party. When the people voted the Saenuri Party into the majority, what they wanted is not for the Saenuri Party to share the chairman positions of the committees with opposition parties, but to take over the Assembly and run it well. The minority parties, if they don’t like it, should just win the next election. This is the American congressional system. The floor leader of the Saenuri Party is also pathetic. Despite the majority status that it achieved in such a difficult way, the party is wasting time, pushed around by the opposition party. Is this the way for a ruling party to behave? It should open the Assembly in a hurry, get rid of proportional representation, and make the members of the Assembly pledge allegiance only to the Republic of Korea.

There is no such system of proportional representation in the U.S. It does not have such a non-democratic system where people go through the trouble of casting another vote for the party they prefer, parties select their proportional representatives as they please in proportion to the number of those votes, and the odd numbered positions in the list of candidates for proportional representatives of a party should be assigned to women. It is also through proportional representation that the pro-North Korea lawmakers have entered the National Assembly. In the U.S., a congressman without a district is unimaginable. When I asked why proportional representation is needed, the answer was that it is needed to have lawmakers with expertise. I would like to ask who, among the proportional representatives in this assembly, have expertise and in which field it is. Maybe they are experts on North Korea. It seems common sense that since a proportional representative is a lawmaker selected by a party based on the number of votes that the party has received. If the person is expelled from the party, the person should lose the seat as well. How can there be a proportional representative without a party? For the first time in the history of our country, we might have independent proportional representatives. This is really ridiculous.

I suggest Korea get rid of the system of proportional representation. Why do we need proportional representation in Korea? If the 54 seats of proportional representatives are removed, the number of the members of the National Assembly will be reduced to 246. One member of the Assembly represents about 180,000 people. This should be enough. In the U.S., one House Representative represents 620,000 people.

Also, the lawmakers in the National Assembly should take the following oath in front of our flag. “I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, and defend the Republic of Korea against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that threaten its democracy, and that I will bear true allegiance only to the Republic of Korea.” This oath is roughly based on the oath of office that I took in the U.S. Congress. A member of the National Assembly who has taken this oath will never be able to make strange statements such as “Historical proof is needed to decide which side started the Korean War,” “The sinking of the Cheonan was made up with conspiracy.” “North Korean defectors are traitors,” and “The hereditary system and human rights issue of North Korea should be understood from the North’s point of view.”

A member of the National Assembly should not be a hypocrite who seems to serve two countries, enjoying freedom in South Korea but always on the side of North Korea. The person should choose one country and take an oath of allegiance such that only the Republic of Korea is the person’s country, the one for which the person will lay down his or her life. Anyone who rejects or breaks this oath should be expelled from the Assembly. A person who lacks such patriotism does not deserve to be a member of the National Assembly.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website (


Operation to recover remains of soldiers

By Jay Kim

Twenty years after the end of the Vietnam War, U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. It was July 11, 1995. A U.S. Consulate was established in Ho Chi Minh City in August of that year. Not everybody agreed with the decision. Associations of veterans expressed their strong objections, and especially, the associations of Vietnam War veterans held fierce protests every day. They shouted out that it was too soon to establish diplomatic relations with the enemy of the cruel war after losing tens of thousands of their fellow soldiers and that was not the way to console the souls of the dead.

At the time, I received a phone call from House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He asked me to go to Vietnam as a representative of the House to visit and celebrate the newly-established U.S. Consulate and also visit the site of an operation to recover the remains of U.S. soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. Since other congressmen could not make the trip, I had to leave for Vietnam with only my aides. I visited the old U.S. Embassy building located in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

It was the place of the horrible scenes where Vietnamese workers  there were hanging on and falling off from the last U.S. military helicopters and Vietnamese people were desperately crawling over the walls of the building. These horrible situations at the time were broadcast live on TV news worldwide for several days. I was told that there were plans to refurbish the place and make it into a museum.

The next day, I went to the recovery site where about 50 Vietnamese women were searching hard for remains, digging the ground carefully with their hands. With them, six U.S. Marines were trying to find anything they could, even fragments of spoons. Full of disappointment, they told me that they had tried their best for a month to find the dog tags or other remains of soldiers by searching the whole place thoroughly, following word from the people of the village that they saw a U.S. fighter jet crash, but not even a piece of metal was found. Then, they said that they planned to move to another place after one more week of searching.

The whole cost of the search, including payments to those Vietnamese women, was paid by the United States. Maybe because of the money they earn, the women working at the site looked happy, talking and laughing with each other. It was because what they earned working at that site for a day was more than the monthly wages of their husbands. According to a story from the Marines there, in only one out of 10 cases, they found the remains of soldiers at a place people reported as a crash site. At that time, the U.S. government paid $1 million per body to the Vietnamese government if the discovered remains were confirmed to be that of a U.S. soldier. The U.S. government hoped that it would discover thousands of bodies but the actual number was very small.

The U.S. government also searched North Korea to find the remains of dead or missing soldiers of the U.S. and allied forces. The U.S. government agreed with North Korea on the joint operation to look for remains in 1993, and performed 23 searches from 1996 to 2005. As a result, 226 bodies were discovered and 72 bodies were identified as those of the allied forces. As the cost of discovery, $28 million was paid to North Korea.

Among the discovered bodies, 12 were confirmed to be those of South Koreans through DNA tests, and they were returned to their country after 62 years on May 25. Their recovery was due to the efforts of the U.S. government. The bodies of Privates Kim Yong-soo and Kim Gap-soo were among them. Kim Yong-soo was a 17-year-old student and his uncle Kim Gap-soo was a 34-year-old father of two who had to leave his family behind. They enlisted on the same day, and their deaths were three days apart.

The efforts of the U.S. government to find, regardless of the cost, the remains of those who died fighting for their country are intended to show the nation how valuable those lives sacrificed for their country are. The U.S. government also makes such efforts because it believes that they raise not only the morale of the military and their families but also pride and patriotism in the whole nation.

“You are not forgotten.”

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website (

Korea Economic Daily 4/25


Jay Kim has founded an academy in Korea to advance Korean politics and foster honorable politicians and advanced businessmen.

The goal of the Kim Chang-jun Politics & Economy Academy, named after Kim, is to lay the foundation for the advancement of Korean politics through various research into economic and political issues.

Kim said, “I believe that I know more about the American democracy than anyone, as I served as a U.S. House Representative for three consecutive terms,” and explained his reason behind the establishment of the academy. “Now, I will address obstacles to the advancement of politics in Korea through this academy”.

According to his evaluation, Korean politics still remains in the third world. He claimed that it was due to the short history of democracy inKoreaand the lack of real reform which has been hindered by the political establishment. He argued that we should correct the situation where 1% of politicians make 99% of the people unhappy, and work toward building an advanced form of free democracy to take root in our country.

To advance Korean politics and foster respected politicians, his academy will combine domestic and overseas research power. It will form a research group which will be a link between renowned politicians and scholars in the U.S. and Korea, to establish the foundation for a human network where a continuous real-time exchange of information occurs.

Also, his academy will perform diverse research on the opinions and desires of the people and secure stable and steady funding to lead the right political and economic research and contribute to society.

In addition, the academy will hold international conferences and lectures by the world’s best experts and scholars to unite and strengthen the international research on Korean politics and economy.

Above all, Kim emphasized the transparency of the academy. To operate funding projects according to the founding missions of the academy, a thorough, credible review process will be adopted from the selection of research projects to publication of results.

The academy will first develop curriculums on the advancement of the Korean economy and politics and the development of political leadership, and begin its operation on a full scale in June.