A Korean-American parliamentarian Mark Keam (Korean name: Sun-yeop Kim) has played a key role in making the Virginia’s House of Delegates give Korea a clear victory on Sea of Japan dispute.
Two of America's closest Asian allies played out their historic rivalry in the U.S. state of Virginia on 6 February, with South Korea celebrating victory after state lawmakers approved legislation requiring that the Korean name for the Sea of Japan ‘East Sea’ be included in new school textbooks.
Virginia's House of Delegates voted 81-15 to approve the two-line bill, which requires "that all text books approved by the Broad of Education ... when referring to the Sea of Japan, shall note that it is also called the East Sea."
The bill had already been approved by the state Senate. Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, has veto power but spoke on behalf of the Korean perspective during his campaign for governor and is widely expected to sign the measure.
Mark Keam, a House delegate of Korean descent, said, “All Korean men and women went through suffering, disgrace and humility that other nations didn’t face during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.
"When Korean people open up the textbooks of their children and they saw that a map that reminds them of the repression, that reminds them of the invasion, that reminds them of that body of water that was crossed by the Japanese to come and annex that nation for 35 years."
Mr Keam was educated in Australia in his early years and served for the Australian Olympics team in Seoul in 1988 as a chief interpreter.
His father was a founding pastor of the Korean Uniting Church in Strathfield, Sydney which is one of the oldest Korean community churches in Australia and his brother is Dr Jin-yeop Kim who was jailed in South Korea in 1990 due to his alleged involvement in assisting the then pro unification activist Su Kyung Lim’s unauthorised visit to North Korea while serving in Korea as a Uniting Church’s medical missionary.
Su Kyung Lim is now a member of the Korean National Assembly.
Image: Virginia House Delegate Mark Kim talks to supporters after the passage of Virginia House Bill 11 in Virginia State Capital in Richmond, Virginia.