WASHINGTON, D.C., August 12, 2022 – Mukilteo councilman Jason Moon accompanied by Representative Cindy Ryu (D-Lynnwood) and SeaTac City Council member Peter Kwon, recently attended the Korean American Grassroots Conference (KAGC) in our Nation’s Capital on July 27 through July 29 – the largest nationwide network of Korean American voters.
The national conference draws over 600 community members from over 110 districts across 31 states every summer. As a non-partisan not-for-profit organization, KAGC is dedicated to uplifting the Korean American community through active civic engagement and, in turn, contributing to the U.S.-Korea alliance.
“[The biggest thing] I learned [is] that diversity and balance is important. If one group of people cannot be heard or given an opportunity, then a red flag is thrown,” Councilman Moon told the Lynnwood Times.
When the elected officials first arrived in D.C., they spent their first day registering, networking, listening to key speakers and attending a session on the Adoptee Citizen’s Act specific to Korean Americans who were deported back to their native country.
In 2017, Philip Clay, 42, was found dead in Seoul, South Korea, by apparent suicide. Clay had been adopted to an American family in the 1980’s and, after a struggle with drug addiction and problems with the law, was deported back to Korea in 2012. Clay was one of multiple people brought to the United States as an adoptee deported back to South Korea as an adult.
In 1979 the Holt Children’s Services brought over a three-year-old who was given the name Adam Crasper. In his 40’s, Crasper learned that due to an oversight in the adoption process, he was not a U.S. citizen and would be deported back to Korea. Crasper was left alone without U.S. citizenship after his adopted family was charged with child abuse. He was later sentenced to two years in prison after being caught attempting to steal the only two items he brought with him to the United States: a pair of shoes and a Korean bible. Based on this, and some other criminal charges, Crasper was deported back to Seoul, after 38-years living in the United States, not speaking the language, and leaving his wife and daughter behind in the states.
The Adoptee Rights Campaign estimates that 112,000 Korean children were adopted by US citizens in the last 60 years. Out of these, 20% of adoptees who are now adults are living in the U.S. without citizenship, in danger of deportation.
After attending the first session, Councilman Moon and colleagues were divided into groups by state to work on core issues, role plays, and to input from elected officials to provide direction for their meeting on Capitol Hill the following day.
The next day, each group met with their respective Congressional leaders, having lunch together in the Capitol Building, and were met by special guests including Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), and Rep. Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), to name a few.
That evening KAGC hosted a Gala that hundreds attended including the Republic of Korea Ambassador to the U.S., Cho Tae-yong. Numerous mayors, Senators, Congressional members, and other leaders also gave special remarks and appearances at this event.
When Moon arrived at the airport to head back to Mukilteo, he learned his flight home had been canceled due to mechanical issues and only three of the over 100 passengers were able to secure flights home before the next day. Moon was lucky enough to reserve a flight to Chicago and transfer to a flight to Seattle.
“[it was the] worst experience ever,” Moon told the Lynnwood Times. “Pure chaos and frustration as [the] 100 plus people tried to rebook their flights. The flight crew and captain were helpless as they stood next to the desk trying to calm people down. The worst part was trying to get assistance with our newly booked ticket and trying to figure out how we could get compensated for lost bags and the canceled flight. [I] found out that Pete Buttigieg had a similar experience and is now pushing for change which we desperately need.”
This year was Councilman Moon’s first year attending KAGC and third time visiting D.C. Although his time was spent mostly working and volunteering, he told the Lynnwood Times next time he returns to D.C. he wants to go on a midnight stroll to see all of the landmarks on an electric scooter.
“I hope to continue to be a resource and mentor for those who are passionate about politics or about their Korean/Asian American Identity,” Moon told the Lynnwood Times.
The public is invited to attend Korean American Appreciation Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at Kamiak High School located at 10801 Harbour Pointe Blvd in Mukilteo. Come and celebrate, engage, and break bread with the local Korean community and enjoy live performances, some great words from special guests, and food.