"Freedom is significant for peace to flow and where peace flows, the ground is fertile for prosperity." — Nelly Shin Global Korean Politicians Forum, Seoul, August 17, 2022
A GATHERING OF DIASPORA POLITICIANS Global Korean Politicians Forum, Seoul
August 16 to 19, 2022
"You must have worked incredibly hard and overcome a lot of hardships to have been elected as a Korean in a foreign country because it's tough enough to win an election as a Korean living in Korea." These were the typical words of nationals, relatives and strangers, in Korea regarding my election as the first Korean born Member of Parliament in Canada.
While Canada is my home and I've been a Canadian Citizen most of my life, yes, I had overcome a lot of adversity before sitting in the House of Commons. The other diaspora Korean politicians I met at the Global Korean Politicians Forum also faced great challenges to become the first Korean diaspora politicians in their nation, state, province, county, and city. Perhaps that was one reason why we set aside our partisanship and bonded so quickly with one another when we gathered in Seoul, Korea, August 16 to 19, 2022. Our common ancestry and immigrant experiences knit us well.
A delegation of Koreans in the Canadian political community included Senator Yonah Martin (first Korean Canadian Senator and current Chair of Overseas Korean Politicians Council) and Sandy Lee (first elected Korean Canadian Member of the Legislative Assembly and Cabinet Minister). Among some of the other members of the Canadian political community were Jay Shin (former federal Conservative candidate in Burnaby, BC) and Sean Lee (Coquitlam City Councillor candidate in BC). Other countries represented in person included Argentina, Australia, Chile, Great Britain, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States of America. During the four days, August 16 to 19, we learned a lot from each other and also met Korean dignitaries from the National Assembly.
PEACE AND PROSPERITY IN THE MIDST OF INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT
August 17, 2022
"Trust is a delicate matter. If there is any time that political agendas and selfish ambitions need to be set aside, it is in the peacemaking process. Otherwise there’s a risk of widening the chasm." — Nelly Shin Global Korean Politicians Forum, Seoul, August 17, 2022
During the Forum, I was privileged to join Melissa Lee (first Korean Member of New Zealand’s Parliament), Ye One Rhie (Member of Germany’s Parliament), and Cindy Ryu (first female Korean American Mayor and first female Korean American elected into Washington State House of Representatives) as a panelist on the Roles of Global Korean Politicians for Peace and Prosperity Amid International Conflicts.
I spoke on the Pathway to Peace and Restoration with a call for diaspora Korean politicians to assume the role of peacemaker and cultivating a culture of honour and people-centred servant leadership in the political sphere.
You can listen to segments of my speech at:
Edited Intro - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aob5mUdx5Ws&t=11s
Edited Audio Version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXHQs6YaafY
Full Video Version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix56syrqOuo
Meeting with Seoul Metropolitan Councillors
August 19, 2022
Thanks to American School Board Trustee, Jin Lee, for organizing, a small delegation of global Korean politicians had an opportunity to meet with some Councillors from the Seoul Metropolitan Council at the end of the forum. I engaged in a discussion about how immigrants can be better prepare for success in Canada and how the Korean Canadian community can better support and protect new Korean immigrant entrepreneurs. A number of Koreans who immigrate to Canada to start new businesses become disillusioned and return to the motherland after encountering fraud, discrimination, and cultural barriers.
FIRST DIASPORA KOREAN POLITICIANS
(incomplete list including non-Global Korean Politicians Forum attendees)
Canada Raymond Cho: First Korean Canadian politician elected in Canada (Toronto City Council (1991-2016); Province of Ontario 2016-Present)
Sandy Lee: First female Korean Canadian politician elected in Canada and first Korean Canadian Member of Legislative Assembly elected in Canada (Northwest Territories 1999-)
Yonah Martin: First Korean Canadian Parliamentarian appointed in Canada (Senate 2009-Present)
Jane Shin: First Korean Canadian Member of Legislative Assembly elected in the Province of British Columbia (2013-2017)
Steve Kim: First Korean Canadian City Councillor elected in the Province of British Columbia (2018-Present)
Nelly Shin: First Korean Canadian Member of Parliament elected in Canada (House of Commons 2019-2021)
Melissa Lee: First Korean born Member of Parliament elected in New Zealand (2008-Present)
United States of America
Cindy Ryu: First female Korean American Mayor elected in the United States while serving as City Council Member in Shoreline, WA (2008-2009); and first female Korean American State Legislator elected in the State Washington (House 2010-Present)
Late Paull Shin: (1935-2021) First Korean American State Legislator elected in the State of Washington (House 1992-94, Senate1998-2014)
John Lim: First Korean American State Legislator elected in the State of Oregon (Senate 1992-1999, House 2004-2008)
Lori Stegmann: First Korean American elected to Board of Commissioners in Multnomah County Commissioner, Portland, Oregon (2016-Present)
Ellen Park: First female Korean American elected into New Jersey Assembly (2021-Present)
Kevin O'Toole: First Korean American elected into New Jersey Assembly (House 1996-2001, 2002-2008; Senate 2001-2002, 2008-2017)
Mark Keam: First Korean American State Legislator elected in the State of Virginia (2010-Present)
Irene Shin: First female Korean American State Legislator elected in the State of Virginia (2022-Present)
Jin Lee: First Korean American elected to Maine Township High School District School Board in Illinois (2013-Present)
Steven Choi: First Korean American Board of Education Trustee elected in Irvine Unified School District, Orange County, CA (1998-2004); and the first Korean-American City Councillor elected in the City of Irvine, CA (2004-2012); Mayor of Irvine, CA (2012-16); Assemblyman State of California (2016-Present)
Cheryl Myers: First Korean American appointed to Oregon Deputy Secretary of State (2021 to present), appointed to Governors Cabinet (2011-2014) and elected to North Clackamas School Board, OR (2005-2013)