Koreans in September Election
From Joong Ang
September 09, 2003

By JongHoon Kim

The election on September 9th was rather quiet, without any intriguing issues or fierce competitions. According to participants and volunteers in Flushing, Queens, where Korean voter population is larger than any other area in NYC, there was lower Korean voter turn-out than there had been in any other primaries.

It turns out that senior citizens are more active in volunteering or voting than any other age group. One voting site, JHS189 in Flushing, had a 78-year-old volunteer as a Korean translator. Mr. Um, who started volunteering three years ago through a youth service center, stated that he wanted to help promote Korean American voter participation, which is low compared with the Chinese American population's turnout.

Also at JHS189, another 78-year-old named SoonHee Huh arrived on her wheelchair accompanied by her husband. She has been casting her ballot for 3 years in every election, and is proud of being a responsible citizen.

Community groups such as Young Korean Service and Education Center (YKSEC), Coalition for Korean Americans, and the Korean American Community Council, campaigned for Korean American voter participation and monitored voters at voting sites. One participant from YKSEC speculated that Korean American voters seemed the least interested in the election, along with overall lower turnout trend. Compared with the elections in 2001 and 2002, there was 30 percent to 50 percent decrease. Flushing Senior Citizens Center and Jackson Heights, which contains the area's largest Korean American community, reported around 300 Korean voters in 2001, 196 in 2002, and only 141 this year.

Other organizations also visited voting sites and noted the trend. Democratic City Council candidate Isaac Sasson’s “racist appeal” in his primary race against John Liu (D-Flushing), had only failed. Sasson tried to attract Korean and Jewish communities by pointing out that John Liu's advisor John Choi is the founder of Nodutdol, which Sasson called a pro-North Korea and anti-Semitic organization.

One Korean voter remarked that Sasson's campaign hadn't targeted Korean Americans and instead only focused on criticizing John Liu by using one Korean organization as an example. “He lacks understanding of Korean community, and that made me not to vote for him.”

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Translated from Korean by Joo Yeon Lee

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