Many of you may remember Dr. Kang Young Woo, Special Assistant to the President of the United States, who came to speak at our church last year. In his talk he mentioned that he was trying to invite as many influential U.S. officials as possible to Korea and introduce them to Korean leaders. I think he is doing a tremendous service for Korea, because a human connection is important in international affairs. Years ago the Korean President wanted to meet the U.S. President but could not get an invitation to the White House because there was no one who could exert influence and make such a visit possible. If there had been someone like Dr. Kang, things might have been different.
Dr. Kang can help Korea because he holds a high office in the U.S. government. If Korean-Americans want to help their motherland, we need to be active in mainstream America just like Dr. Kang. Some Koreans in the U.S. seem to think that they’re being patriotic Koreans by reading the Korean newspaper, watching Korean videos, and showing interest in Korean politics. They don’t realize that they cannot help Korea unless they become Americans.
I see a great contrast between Chinese-Americans and Jewish-Americans. Chinese-Americans tend to form tightly knit insular communities. As a result many of them are not proficient in English and have a hard time entering mainstream American society. On the other hand, Jewish-Americans become a part of the mainstream and hold influential positions in every aspect of American life. They can help the Israeli government because the power of their influence cannot be ignored by government officials and Congressmen.
If Korean-Americans truly love their motherland they must make efforts to become Americans and hold influential positions. If they can’t do that themselves, they need to help their children do so.
We conduct the youth service solely in English, even though we know there are some there who don’t fully understand it. We do this to help them learn English and become Americans as quickly as possible.
Korean citizens and their government need to be wise in dealing with Korean-Americans. Korean-Americans who don’t speak Korean are sometimes scorned when they visit Korea. U.S. citizens are sometimes treated like traitors. It should not be so. Korea must welcome Korean-Americans who don’t speak Korean and encourage Koreans who reside in America to become U.S. citizens. That way they may get help when they need it.
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