CKA Disappointed By Prime Minister Abe’s Speech To Congress

[Also read CKA Member Bonnie Oh's commentary about Abe's speech in Roll Call, Capitol Hill media outlet]

April 29, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Council of Korean Americans (CKA), a national nonpartisan organization of Korean Americans with diverse backgrounds, is disappointed by the speech given today by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a joint meeting of Congress. Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Washington was intended to be a forward-looking event, designed to strengthen Japan’s alliance with the US. For weeks, a broad chorus of voices — including a bipartisan group of members of Congress as well as the Council of Korean Americans — has been calling on Prime Minister Abe to give an unequivocal apology for Japan’s role in the “comfort women” system of sexual slavery during WWII. However, today, there was neither an apology, nor any reference made to the comfort women during his 45-minute speech.

Prime Minister Abe has previously sought to suppress and deny the historical facts. He has denied any government coercion in the recruitment of comfort women and alleged that comfort women were simply part of a licensed prostitution system. The Abe administration worked to suppress a UN report on comfort women and objected to the description of comfort women in a US-published academic textbook.

Yong Soo Lee, 86, of South Korea attended today’s speech. Sitting in the House gallery, from her wheelchair, dressed in a traditional Korean “hanbok,” Ms. Lee represented the hopes of her fellow comfort women to be given a clear apology from Japan’s top leader while they are still alive. “Grandma Lee,” as she is known, continues to wait.

The Council of Korean Americans and our allies will continue to be the voice of Grandma Lee and all comfort women everywhere in pursuit of an unequivocal apology, as urged by House Resolution 121. We look forward to the day when Japan’s role in the plight of the comfort women is fully acknowledged by its leadership, and the dignity of all comfort women, including Grandma Lee, is restored.

CKA Calls Upon Baltimore Mayor To Meet With Businesses (English and Korean)

[Also read KAGRO chair David H. Kim's commentary about Freddie Gray riots in The Baltimore Sun, Maryland's largest general-circulation daily newspaper]

May 6, 2015

WASHINGTON – The Council of Korean Americans (CKA) expresses profound sympathy for all those affected by the death of Freddie Gray. As Americans, we stand with all those who advocate for social justice, who strive for peaceful change and who believe that all lives matter.

But for Korean Americans, the aftermath of the anger and mayhem in Baltimore last week was immediate and personal. Korean American and Asian American immigrants operated the majority of the 200 businesses that were looted, vandalized or burned down during the recent Baltimore riots. And for Korean Americans in Baltimore and around our country, this brought back memories of April 29, 1992, when Los Angeles began to burn and with it the stores and life’s work of so many Korean American shopkeepers.

Twenty-three years have passed since that night, called “Sa-i-gu” in the Korean American community, which translates in English as “4-2-9″ for the date “4/29.” For some in the Korean American community, the reference to “4/29″ evokes a immediate sense of community loss. Yet history tragically repeated itself in Baltimore in 2015. And as it was in 1992, the vast majority of America is unaware that the Korean American and Asian American shop keepers bore the greatest brunt of a community’s and a nation’s anger at a social injustice that ended yet another young life too early.

Let us show that we have progressed since 1992. We call upon Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to meet with the resident shop keepers who absorbed the community’s rage and frustration, some of whom may never be able to recover a lifetime’s investment or a feeling of security within their community.

CKA, on behalf of the Korean American Grocers Association, its local allies and all impacted businesses, invites Baltimore’s political leaders to come meet with them, hear their stories, and bear witness to what happens when a community’s rage finds an unwelcome outlet. We further urge that our political leaders take preemptive action to protect these members of the community at critical stages in the criminal proceedings against the six charged law enforcement officers. To do any less would diminish the sacrifices of all in the Baltimore community who suffered from the death of Freddie Gray.

볼티모어 시장은 피해 상인들과 만나 대화하길 요구한다

코리안 아메리칸 카운슬 (Council of Korean Americans) 성명서

“코리안 아메리칸 카운슬“ (Council of Korean Americans)은 프레디 그래이의 사망과 그로 인해 피해를 입은 모든 사람들에게 깊은 애도를 표명한다. 우리는 미국인으로서 사회 정의와 평화적인 변화를 추구하는 모든 분들과 함께하며 인종과 상관없이 모든 사람의 생명은 고귀하다는 것을 믿는다.

그러나 2015년 4월 30일 볼티모어에서 발생한 대혼란과 폭동으로 한인 상인들이 큰 피해와 상처를 입었다는 것을 밝히고자 한다. 볼티모어에서 발생한 폭동으로 200여개의 한인과 아시안 아메리칸 소유의 상점들이 약탈을 당하고 기물들이 파손되고 전소 되었다. 그것은 볼티모어와 미 전국에 거주하는 미주 한인들에게1992년 4월 29일 발생한 로스앤젤레스 폭동의 악몽을 연상케 했다. 한인들은 엄청난 재산 피해와 충격을 던져준 로스앤젤레스 폭동을 사이구 (4월 29일)로 부른다. 사이구 폭동이 발생한지 23년이 지났지만 그날의 악몽은 미주 한인들에게는 결코 잊혀질 수 없으며 폭동의 악몽이 볼티모어에서 다시 재현된 것이다. 사이구 폭동 때도 미 주류 언론은 흑인과 백인 사회에만 관심을 표명하고 엄청난 피해를 당한 한인 사회에는 무관심 했는데 이번에도 똑같은 일이 반복되고 있다.

1992년 이후 미국 사회가 변했고 개선 됐다는 것을 보여 줄 필요가 있다. 우리는 스테파니 로링스-블래이크 볼티모어 시장이 엄청난 피해를 당한 업소 주인들과 직접 만나 그들을 도울 수 있는 방안을 모색할 것으로 적극적으로 요구한다. 2015년 4월 30일 발생한 폭동으로 엄청난 피해를 당한 상당수의 상점들은 재기할 수 없을 가능성이 많고 그들은 미국에 대한 신뢰도 잃고 있다.

코리안 아메리칸 카운슬은 한미식품상협회와 피해자들을 대신해서 볼티모어 정치 지도자들이 상인들과 만나서 피해 현황을 파악하고 피해자들의 의견을 수렴하고 그들에게 구체적으로 어떤 도움을 줄 수 있는지를 경청할 것을 적극 요구한다.  정치인들은 구속된 6명의 경찰들에 대한 재판이 진행되는 동안 이러한 불상사가 또 다시 재발하지 않도록 상점들을 보호할 수 있는 구체적인 방안을 모색할 것을 요구한다. 그런 조치를 취하는 것이 프레드 그래이의 사망으로 고통을 받고 있는 볼티모어의 모든 사람들의 희생을 헛되게 하지 않는 것이라는 것을 분명히 밝힌다.