Leading Korean-American civic leader explains push for 'East Sea' recognitionUpdated: 2014-02-14 21:54:09 (KST)
Fifty-four-year-old Peter Kim witnessed a moment that will go down in the history of Korean-Americans.
It all started two years ago with a conversation he had with his son who was in fifth grade at the time.
"I asked my son: 'Chris, do you know the Sea between Korea and Japan?' 'Yes, daddy.' 'What's the name of it?' 'Sea of Japan.' So I really got upset and I told him that it's not true. 'It's the East Sea and you call it Donghae.' And he said: 'Daddy, it's in the textbook. That's how I learned it at school.'"
That’s when Peter decided to take action.
He went on to form a group, which later spearheaded a grassroots movement of Korean-Americans in the DC metro area.
"I mean there were a lot of people coming from Washington area driving two hours from Richmond. They had to get up at three o'clock in the morning. I mean it is cold weather here. Sometimes it was snowing but senior citizen people they just wanted to show up at the General Assembly and pressure the delegates and Senators to vote for East Sea bill."
However, the long and arduous journey was far from easy.
"The most difficult one was the House education subcommittee meeting. Nine members, Governor McAuliffe's staff actually went to them to stop the bill, and they actually did. And there was a four-four tie. They had to vote again, barely passed five-four."
Although last week’s victory in Virginia means the same law will be applied to seven other states in the southeastern U.S., Peter Kim says his hopes do not stop there.
"So the journey in Virginia has come to an end, but do you think this journey should continue?"
"I think it should continue. I did my part and other Korean-Americans should step up and stick together and continue this movement until 2017 where IHO meets and hopefully IHO agrees on both names East Sea and Sea of Japan."
Kim Han-ul, Arirang News, Washington.
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