Translated by Kelly Choi
The presidential election of Korean Society of New England, a leading organization of Korean-Americans, is coming up in 3 months. However, most Korean-Americans are uninterested in the election. This election, the 37th, is not expected to be fiercely contested, due to a lack of candidates. Some predict there won’t be any candidates, just like the 36th election.
The KSNE claims that it is too early to prepare for the election. President Hansun Yoo redirected questions regarding the election preparations, saying “Please contact the advisory panel. It is not my call.” To the question if he has any intention to run for reelection, he replied, ” it is too early to answer. We need to receive candidate applications first.”
However, the advisory panel said, “The president should ask for assembly of election oversee committee first. Then, the advisory panel will be able to select 7 board members to oversee the election, pending approval from the Board of Directors.” This means that now is the time for candidates to announce their candidacy.
Sung-in Kim, chairman of the Board of Directors, said, “There has been no time for progress on the election front, because the Association is still settling in to its new headquarters, but the matter will be brought up at a meeting in September to the advisory panel.
In keeping with election protocol, the election will be held on the second Sunday of November, the same year that the President’s current term ends. The election committee should be assembled 60 days prior to the election date. It will announce the timetable for the election process, who is on the election committee, the time and location of the election, and time and location of election counting. During the campaign, the timetable will be advertised more than one time repeatedly in the Korean Newspapers including New England Korean News.
Korean-Americans expressed contrary opinions about the election. Most Koreans involved with KSNE showed great interest, but others did not. Gyu-Taek Seo, a former KSNE president, commented that “Some call us “KSNE people” I get disappointed whenever I hear that word. I think Korean-Americans lack enthusiasm for participating in KSNE. Former president Seo said KSNE can do more for the Korean American community if it is revitalized through Koreans’ participation and support.
Also, he regrets that KSNE in its current state, has become an organization for socializing since it was separated from its Korean sub-organization.. These days, KSNE serves to hold national holiday events, Mr. Seo said. KSNE used to help immigrants with English education, sponsoring driving tests, and the like. Despite the fact that the number of Koreans that need help has decreased due to greater Internet use, he emphasized that office workers are still needed to support Koreans in need.
Sun-in Kim, the KSNE board Chairman, pointed out that “the biggest challenge lies in the Korean community’s lack of interest.” and he added that this problem is greater than the financial one. “We don’t know what KSNE does,” most Koreans say when pressed for the reasons behind the lack of interest. Korean students also said “Not interested. We do not know what kind of help we can get, and we do not see any relationship between us and the organization.” Miyoung-Kim, who recently moved here from other state, said “I wanted to ask some questions about Mass Health and the grade school application process, but I could not get in touch with KSNE.”
Some Korean organizations regretted that KSNE could not take more of a leadership position in Korean community. They wish KSNE would cooperate with other organizations in the spirit of altruism.
Kay Lee, a president of Korean American citizen’s League, asked critics “to see KSNE as the leading organization of the Korean community.” She emphasized it is better to support their leadership role, considering what KSNE is already doing. She sees KSNE as a leader of the Korean community for recent immigrants to the United States.
On-ku Cho, president of New England Korean Dry-cleaners Association, hoped KSNE would play a pivotal role in Korean communities. Also, he added that KSNE should aspire to loftier goals than it currently does.
An anonymous Korean pointed out that if the president of KSNE were to set an example as a volunteer, Korean Americans who donated for the building headquarters would help KSNE a lot despite the recession, and that if there were full-time staff to help the president handle all the Korean community affairs, more Koreans would support KSNE.
Sung-in Kim, the chairman of the Board of Directors, expressed his desire that the next president be “someone who has an altruistic sense of purpose, and who can represents Korean interests in the States and defend their rights there. He also added “I wish people would get interested in something else due to the oversea residence election,”and wished for a next generation candidate.