There’s no doubt that the Korean American community has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past few years. From Gangnam Style to K-Pop, Bulgogi Taco Food Trucks to BB Cream, Korea-mania has swept through the world, especially America, like nothing else.
For politicians, of course, this also means another thing: a powerful body of voters. The Washington Post recently reported on “election-year pandering” currently happening in the U.S., specifically in Northern Virginia.
In the open-seat race in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, the Republican candidate, state Del. Barbara Comstock, is promising that, if elected, she will attempt to insert Congress into a dispute between South Korea and Japan. The dispute involves prodding states to buy school textbooks that challenge the name of the Sea of Japan, which many Koreans insist should be called the East Sea. Ms. Comstock’s Democratic opponent, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, chimed in that he would do the same. (Source)
The Post calls it a “bitter dispute”- and it is, one which has been making headlines lately, along with constant coverage of the Korean comfort women statue and the Pope’s recent visit to South Korea.
Perhaps most interestingly, the article directly addresses the comfort women issue, and wonders about the “memorial garden” set up in tribute to them behind the Fairfax County Government Center:
There’s no dispute about the anguish and abuse suffered by so-called comfort women, many of them Korean, who were forced into brothels to service Japanese soldiers. But what other ethnic, national or historical grievances will Fairfax agree to memorialize at its government center? Irish repression at the hands of the British? The Armenian genocide perpetuated by the Turks? The 14th-century Battle of Kosovo, in which the Serbs were wiped out by the Ottomans?
It is no surprise that these historical issues, many of which should have been laid to rest decades ago when the war ended and the Japanese government issued a public apology on the matter, are being politicized today. As the article points out, Virginia has 82,000 ethnic Koreans, vastly outnumbering ethnic Japanese in the state.