WASHINGTON – Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus on Jan. 13 released the following statements to celebrate Korean American Day, which commemorates the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the U.S. on Jan. 13, 1903, and honors the diverse contributions of Korean Americans.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “118 years ago, the first Korean immigrants arrived in Honolulu aboard the S.S. Gaelic. Since then, Korean Americans have continued to lay deep roots in the United States, bringing a new vibrancy to our communities and contributing greatly to the fabric of our nation as entrepreneurs, doctors, veterans, faith leaders, award winning actors, Olympic athletes, and more.
“I am particularly thrilled that after decades of having no Korean representation in Congress, we now have an historic four Korean American members of Congress: Reps. Andy Kim from New Jersey, Marilyn Strickland from Washington, and Young Kim and Michelle Steel from California. With this increased representation, Korean Americans will now have a stronger voice than ever in Congress, which is critical as our nation works to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Asian Americans have had a disproportionate burden placed on them due to higher than average mortality rates, small business closures, unemployment, and anti-Asian discrimination. Despite this, the Korean American community has shown great resilience in the face of adversity, and I am especially grateful to our Korean American frontline workers who have kept our communities healthy and safe during these challenging times.
“As CAPAC chair, I am honored to join with my colleagues in celebrating Korean American Day and recognizing the invaluable contributions of Korean Americans across the nation!”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), CAPAC first vice chair: “Since the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States 118 years ago, Korean Americans have enriched our history and culture. From public service to entertainment, medicine to military service, Korean Americans have made, and continue to make, innumerable contributions to our country. I am proud to represent a district that has a vibrant Korean American community, in a state with the second largest number of Korean Americans in the country.
“Today, we recognize the history and accomplishments of Korean Americans, and remember our duty to fight for reunions of Korean Americans who have remained separated from loved ones since the Korean War – an issue that I will continue to champion in Congress. My deepest appreciation, and best wishes to the Korean American community in my district in Queens, N.Y., and across our nation.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), CAPAC whip: “Today, I’m proud to join my fellow members of Congress in celebrating Korean American Day. Since the arrival of the first Korean immigrants on our shores in 1903, Korean Americans have made a profound impact on our society. As small business owners, military service members, healthcare workers fighting on the frontlines of this pandemic and more, Korean Americans have contributed a great deal to our nation and added to our rich diversity, which is unmatched across the globe. I wish the Korean American community in CA-33 and across the country a happy and healthy Korean American Day!”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “On Korean American Day, we celebrate the immense contributions and sacrifices Korean immigrants have made throughout our nation’s history. America’s strength has always come from the diversity of its people, and I am proud to represent a state with one of the highest Korean populations in our country. Today and every day, we celebrate the rich cultural history of Korean Americans across the United States.”
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Since the first Korean immigrants arrived in Hawaii as agricultural laborers more than 100 years ago, Korean Americans have enriched our nation’s culture, economy, and society. As we celebrate their contributions to the history and diversity of the United States, we must also continue our commitment to advancing policies that are important to the Korean community in our country.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), CAPAC Executive Board member: “In the 118th years since the first Korean immigrants arrived on America’s shores, Korean Americans have shown an unwavering dedication to enriching the American experience and finding their place in the great American story. As the son of Korean immigrants and the father to two Korean American baby boys, I see that dedication in my own life every day. I am proud to be a part of this storied history and honored to stand with my colleagues in recognizing Korean American Day.”
Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.), CAPAC Executive Board member: “A Korean immigrant herself, my mother made the bold decision to come to America with her daughter and her husband — a new county where she didn’t really know anyone and didn’t speak the language. My mother’s resilience, strength, hard work, and accomplishments in the face of adversity are reflective of the rich values that the Korean American community continues to offer our nation.
“I am proud to carry these values with me as a member of the historically diverse 117th Congress. As the first Korean American woman to be elected to Congress and the first African American to represent Washington State at the federal level, I could not be more proud of my heritage. This is why it was so deeply personal to wear my hanbok to my swearing-in ceremony earlier this month, which not only symbolizes my heritage and honors my mother, but also serves as a larger testament to the crucial importance of diversity in our nation, state, and the People’s House.
“To everyone celebrating in Washington’s 10th Congressional District, across our nation, and across the globe – I wish you a happy and safe Korean American Day!”
Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii): “I am fiercely proud that our Korean American experience had its humble beginnings in my own district in 1903 and that our Korean American community has grown into such a successful and integral part of the fabric of my Hawai’i and our country. And it is truly exciting to bear witness to its continued success, including just a few months ago as I hosted our first Korean American astronaut — former U.S. Navy Seal and Harvard Medical School graduate Dr. Jonny Kim — on a NASA virtual event with my district high school students, just before he was named to our Artemis team returning to the Moon in 2024.
“There is so much for Korean Americans to be proud of, so much for all Americans to be grateful for, and so many achievements still to come.”
Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles): “Every year, neighborhoods across the United States celebrate Korean American Day by recognizing the many contributions Korean American communities have made to our country. Home to Koreatown, California’s 34th Congressional District – and all of Los Angeles – uniquely understands and appreciates how Korean Americans have uplifted and strengthened our city as educators, first responders, essential workers, small business owners, and more.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Korean American communities particularly hard last year, forcing businesses to close, putting livelihoods in jeopardy, and taking the lives of family and loved ones. But in the face of this shared struggle, I take great pride in knowing that all of us are working hard to turn the page on this public health crisis and rebuild stronger together in 2021.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “The Korean American community continues to leave a commanding impression on the fabric of American society. Particularly at such a tenuous moment in our nation’s history, I am grateful for the many contributions and accomplishments that generations of Korean immigrants, as well as their descendants, have left in communities across California’s 17th Congressional District.”
Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine): “Today, we commemorate the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States over 100 years ago and celebrate the incredible contributions Korean Americans have made to our country since. I’m honored to represent Orange County, which is home to the second-largest Korean community in the U.S., and I’m committed to continuing to work with closely alongside the Korean community in California’s 45th district.”
Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego): “Korean Americans’ ongoing contributions to our nation as teachers, public servants and elected leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and more are valued as part of our shared American identity. I’m honored to support the 20,000 Korean Americans who call San Diego home and make up a part of my district’s vibrant AAPI community. I join them in marking and celebrating this day in history, when the first Korean immigrants arrived to the U.S. 118 years ago. I extend my appreciation to past, present and future generations of Korean Americans and will continue working for them in Congress.”