Korean Americans Outraged Over Supreme Court Nominee Rejection

By David Cruz

Leaders of New Jersey’s Korean American community are not happy about the rejection of state Supreme Court nominee Phillip Kwon, and they met in Englewood to talk about the problems they see in the process.

Kwon’s emotional opening statement, wherein he was moved to tears when remembering his parents’ struggles, struck a chord with New Jersey’s Korean American community. The Kwon family story of sacrifice and success –- epitomized by the son’s ascension to Supreme Court nominee — is the classic example of the American dream. But when his nomination ended in defeat, Korean Americans saw it as a public humiliation. Today, they gathered and organized to say — never again.

“The way the [judiciary] committee conducted their meeting was outrageous,” said businessman Michael Yun. “As a taxpayer in the state of New Jersey, I cannot accept the way they conducted the meeting. It is unacceptable.”

In Englewood, Korean American business, cultural and social leaders announced the formation of a political action committee, which they say will advocate for issues important to Korean Americans and challenge those who ignore them. In this case, that included Senator Loretta Weinberg, who led the charge against Kwon’s nomination.

“I live in this district. My center is in this district and we depend on our representative very much to represent our voice,” said Kye-Eun Ma, who hosted today’s press conference at the Korean Community Center. “That seems to not have happened this time, so it could be her fault; it could be our fault, I don’t know, but it is fact, and I want to give her a message.”

Weinberg says she will meet with leaders of the Korean American community in her district to explain her vote. As Korean Americans continue to develop strong economic and cultural ties in Bergen County and North Jersey, they will need to emulate other ethnic groups by building coalitions and electing their own candidates, so says Palisades Park Deputy Mayor Jason Kim.

“We should learn from this because in the future we are going to have many situations like this. So the more we prepare, the more we know about the whole facts, it will enrich us and make us ready,” said Kim.