Five Korean-American Candidates You’ll See at the Midterm Elections

By Nina Joung

The first — and only — Korean-American to serve in Congress was Republican Jay Kim in 1999. Almost 20 years later, five Korean-American candidates have the chance of running for the House. Three out of the five candidates also have the opportunity to make history as the first female Korean American in Congress.


Much like the Korean American community as a whole, the candidates that made it to this year’s Nov. 6th election come from diverse background experiences and represent a range of political stances. Meet the five candidates and explore their key issues:



Andy Kim

Running for: New Jersey District 3
Party: Democrat
Twitter: @AndyKimNJ
Website: www.andykimforcongress.com

Andy Kim, 36, is no stranger to public office, or the White House for that matter. He’s worked under President George W. Bush as a conflict specialist as the U.S. Agency for International Development and later under President Barack Obama as a national security advisor. He acted as the director for Iraq on President Obama’s National Security Council. Andy Kim was raised in New Jersey by his Korean immigrant parents. Now, he’s back in Burlington County competing to unseat Representative Tom MacArthur, who has been shown to often vote alongside with President Trump — 94.4 percent of the time. This NJ district is a key district, having voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but going to Trump in 2016 by 6%.

Key Issues:

Campaign Finances and Voter Reform
Support the American Worker
Supporting Small Businesses
  • Remove barriers making it harder for small businesses to compete with large corporations such as reinstating net neutrality, simplifying complicated accounting standards and easing rules that limit access to capital
  • Source: https://andykimforcongress.com/blog/issue/bythepeople/
Climate Change
Improve Medicare and Social Security


Lisa Shin

Running for: New Mexico District 43 House of Representatives
Party: Republican
Twitter: @ka4_trump
Website: www.lisasfor43.com

Lisa Shin, an optometrist, highlights her experiences as a healthcare provider and a small business owner as she runs for state representative. This is her first time running for public office, but she is politically invested as the head of Korean Americans for Trump, whose mission is defined as “a volunteer, grass-roots driven initiative to support the Trump agenda and advance conservative principles.” She is a first-generation Korean American, the daughter of Korean immigrant parents.

Key Issues:

Gun Control
Affordable Healthcare
Make New Mexico More “Business Friendly”


Pearl Kim

Running for: Pennsylvania District 5
Party: Republican
Twitter: @PearlKimPA
Website: www.pearlkimforcongress.com

If elected, Pearl Kim, 39, will be the first women of color ever to be elected to US Congress in Pennsylvania. For nine years, Kim worked as an assistant district attorney in Delaware County in the Special Victims and Domestic Violence Division and was chief of the vision’s Human Trafficking Unit. When asked about why she decided to run for Congress, she feels that her experience as a survivor of sexual assault is part of what motivates her. Not receiving any funding from national parties and having left her job as a prosecutor, Pearl Kim considers herself “unbought and unbossed.”

Key Issues:

  • Should secure borders and promote legal immigration
  • Dreamers under DACA, who have otherwise followed our laws, should be afforded a path to citizenship
  • Source: http://www.pearlkimforcongress.com/
Economic Growth
Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking


Young Kim

Running for: California District 39
Party: Republican
Twitter: @YoungKimCD39
Website: www.kimforcongress2018.com

Young Kim’s run for Congress has been two decades in the making. Kim, 56, worked with U.S. Rep. Ed Royce for 21 as director of Asian affairs and eventually becoming his Director of Community Operations. In 2014, she served one term as an assemblywoman, becoming the first Korean American Republican Woman ever to serve in the California state legislature. Young is also a well-known Television Talk Show Host, having hosted “LA Seoul with Young Kim” on KSCI-LA 18 from 1998 to 2005 and “Real Talk” on Arirang-TV in 2011. When asked about President Trump, she told the Los Angeles Times, “I try to tell them I’m not running to be his spokesperson or represent Donald Trump in the White House.”

Key Issues:

Keeping America Safe
Small Businesses
  • will work to reduce unnecessary regulations, increase trade, and work with state and local leaders to create an environment where business can prosper and create good paying jobs.
  • Source: https://www.kimforcongress2018.com/issues/
  • She will fight for increased STEM education funding and to make sure education dollars go to teachers and classrooms not bureaucrats in Sacramento or Washington, D.C.
  • Source: https://www.kimforcongress2018.com/issues/


Thomas Oh

Running for: Virginia District 8
Party: Republican
Twitter: @OhForCongress
Website: www.letuschangecongress.org

Thomas Oh is a political newcomer hailing from Northern Virginia. Thomas earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology, Law, and Society, with a minor in Intelligence Analysis and is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration from George Mason University. He also enlisted then served as an Active Duty Army Officer overseas until his honorable discharge in 2017. Thomas continues to serve as a Captain in the United States Army Reserve while working in project management.

Key Issues:

Reducing Taxes
Protecting the 2nd Amendment


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