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Young Kim

Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-40), who serves as Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific, joined U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United States Hyundong Cho for the Heritage Foundation’s The 2023 B.C. Lee Lecture: The Future of the U.S.-South Korea Alliance in the Indo-Pacific.

Watch the full conversation HERE and read highlights from Rep. Kim’s remarks below.

On How United States and Republic of Korea can Enhance Deterrence

“I think we need to assure that the United States and its allies work more closely so that we can build the security assurance and counter the aggression that we see from both China and North Korea collectively. We also […] need to engage more in the multi-nation exercises like RIMPAC. We’ve seen that. We need to also do more trilateral exercises between us, Japan, and South Korea. During my trip to Japan in April, we were with the Seventh Fleet and saw the exercises and how multiple nations come together to plan and operate together. The message was very clear that they are all doing this with one common threat in mind and that’s China. So we need to be doing more there. I think that really ensures the greater interoperability and sends a very, very strong message that we are presenting a unified front against the aggression from China in North Korea at the same time.”

On Inviting South Korean President Yoon Sok Yeol to Address Congress

“I was very glad to be able to welcome President Yoon to Washington and also serve on the escort committee to bring him to the House floor to listen to his address, to the joint sessions. That visit was very, very timely. It couldn’t have come at a better time because as Ambassador Cho mentioned, we are now celebrating the 70th year alliance of our US ROK alliance. This is very, very meaningful. When I was named the Indo-Pacific Subcommittee [Chairwoman] early this year and I learned that President Yoon is planning a trip to United States, I immediately went to Chairman McCaul and said, ‘We need to make sure President Yoon can speak at Joint Session, and he encouraged both of us to contact the Speaker to extend the official invitation for president.’… I’m so glad that on our recent CODEL to South Korea, to Asia, including Japan and South Korea, when we landed there, we got the notice that the Speaker has allowed us to officially extend the invitation to President Yoon. […] This is a very, very important time because, again, US-ROK alliance was based on shared values as well as talked about on human rights, democracy, freedom, rule of law, which President Yoon reiterated during his speech and also during all of the meetings, even at the White House with President Biden. So that was very significant.”

On the Korean War, How She Felt During President Yoon’s Speech

“[President Yoon and I] talked about the miracle of Han River. Every time I go back to Korea and I get to travel and pass through [the] Han River, I talk about the ‘before and after’ the Korean War. During the either 60th or previous [anniversary] of US ROK alliance, the South Korean government has commissioned to produce a historical pictorial book, ‘Korea Before and After.’ So you see all the photos before Korean War are black and white. All the photos after the Korean War are obviously in color to signify the development and how far Korea has come. I use that to whenever I meet with the veterans of the Korean War. Throughout my work in the district, I always present them with a book, and they are in tears. This is what I was thinking about when I was listening to President Yoon’s speech […] who would have thought 50 some years later, this young girl who immigrated from South Korea will be in the same room welcoming South Korean president to the House floor and be able to serve with you like this as a chairwoman of the Indo-Pacific. […] This was very, very emotional to me personally.”

On Humanitarian Aid to North Korean People

“With regard to providing food and medicine and other type of humanitarian support to North Korea, I would welcome that.

[…] I have to remind you that the United States has offered humanitarian assistance many times. And I know South Korea also offered to provide COVID 19 vaccines, but it was Kim Jong un who refuse to accept those to the perils of its own people. So even if Pyongyang loosens its COVID 19 restrictions, I’m not sure if Kim Jong Un is ready to accept our offers – very generous offer from United States, South Korea and other allies in the in the area.”

On the Biden Administration’s Approach to North Korea

“[President Biden] came into the office emphasizing his commitment to promote human rights around the globe. But there has been a lot of talk and less action, or should I say action that hasn’t come fast enough. I can point to three areas, like it was just December of last year when we finally saw a new wave of U.S. sanctions on individuals or groups that are involved in the human rights violation in North Korea.This was the first time since President Biden came into office and it was more than a year, almost a year, when we saw a nominee for the U.S. ambassador ship to South Korea. That was in a way overdue. And lastly, it was only recently when President Biden’s nominated a Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights. […] These positions that have been left unfilled have really undermined our efforts to address the human rights abroad and globally. And so that’s why I am really serious about making sure that human rights, not just on North Korea issues, but how China is treating its own people and especially in the weaker region. We saw what happened with Taiwan, Hong Kong. We have to speak out, and now we have to work closely, bring a unified voice to let those authoritarian dictators know that we’re not going to tolerate this anymore.”

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