Korean American Leaders Briefing Part 2

Uploaded by whitehouse on 07.06.2012

Gautam Raghavan: All right.
Well, our next speaker is here and I want to be sensitive
to her time.
She is a very busy woman.
But it's a great pleasure to introduce a friend and colleague
here at the White House who serves as our Senior Policy
Director for Immigration, Felicia Escobar.
Felicia Escobar: Well, thank you, everyone.
It seems like you are having a good conversation and networking
with your colleagues and with some of my colleagues in
the Administration.
Again, my name is Felicia Escobar.
I work in the Domestic Policy Council here at the White House.
We're the office within the White House that is specifically
charged with interagency coordination on the issue
of immigration.
And working with our agency partners,
people outside of government in collaboration with the Office of
Public Engagement and others to advance the President's policy
agenda on immigration.
You know, the President is very focused on the need for
legislative reform, and that's something that we have been
focused on since he got here into office.
Something I've been working on with him since August of '09.
And, you know, it's a difficult battle.
It's a difficult issue particularly in tough
economic times.
Oftentimes, as you all know, as we all know,
people like to scapegoat immigrants in tough
economic times.
So that's something that we've been grappling with on a daily
basis as we think about the need for immigration reform,
the fact that we know and you all know that immigrants are an
incredible source of energy and excitement.
They build our economic engine.
They're the reason why our government and our country has
been such a success globally.
They're entrepreneurial.
They had to take the initiative to leave their home countries
and come all the way to a new country where they may not know
the language.
They don't know the culture.
They don't know the systems.
And they make that entrepreneurial step and once
they get here they thrive and they help our country thrive.
So that is something the President believes in
very strongly.
And as we think about immigration reform and the need
for immigration reform there is obviously national security
implications but there is also, from our perspective,
economic implications as well as moral implications for the need
for reform.
So it's something we continue to be very focused on.
We have a difficult time in terms of building the bipartisan
support we need in Congress.
I was here in 2006 and 2007 working in the Senate for Ken
Salazar from Colorado on immigration reform.
We got very close to having a comprehensive bill enacted in
'06 and '07 but we didn't get there.
We had, we had a very good group of people that were from both
sides of the aisle and who were willing to work together to get
this done because I knew that it was an important imperative for
our country.
We need to get to that point again.
And that's why, you know, working with you all,
working with leaders from all over the country in different
sectors of our country, whether it's business leaders,
faith leaders, labor leaders, civil rights and immigrant
rights leaders, state and local elected officials,
we really need to build the case for reform again and really make
sure that people understand that this is something we can and
should get done.
So we continue to be focused on the legislative front.
But there is a lot we can do.
There is a lot we can't do.
But there is a lot we can do to improve the way the
system works.
And so as we continue to look for legislative reform we're
also very focused on administratively reforming the
way the current immigration system works.
We all acknowledge that we're dealing with a broken system of
laws that need to be fixed but there are things that we can do.
So on the enforcement front we have spent a lot of time over
the last couple of years working with the Department of Homeland
Security, the Department of Labor and others that are
involved in enforcement that impacts immigrants to make sure
that it's done in the most effective and efficient
way possible.
So for DHS that means making sure that they have clear
priorities that they have set and that people understand when
it comes to who they're going to be --
who they're going to make decisions to remove and who
they're not going to make decisions to remove.
And for people like -- for agencies like the Department of
Labor, that means making sure that we have clear standards and
are doing our due diligence to make sure that workers are
protected in the labor, in the workforce and in employment
settings regardless of their immigration background.
So there are things like that that we're doing to improve the
way that enforcement is done.
There is also a lot we can do as it relates to the processing of
the millions of hundreds of thousands of applications that
come through the immigration system every year.
So whether it's getting a tourist visa or it's getting
your family-based green card application processed
efficiently or it's getting an employment-based green card or
coming to the country temporarily on a nonimmigrant
temporary worker program, those are all things that we're
working to fix.
One thing that we are also working a lot to do as we think
about the immigration system is figuring out how we can make
sure that immigrant entrepreneurs who want to come
to our country are able to come here through the
existing systems.
There is work that needs to be done to create visa programs and
visa policies that would actually create a more
streamlined process for immigrant entrepreneurs to come
to our country.
But we are doing work right now at USCIS through the
Entrepreneurs and Residents Initiative to streamline the way
the current system works for immigrant entrepreneurs.
On the family-based immigration side of things,
we're doing a lot to make sure that people have the tools that
they need to actually succeed in the naturalization process so
we've supported and funded an immigrant
immigration initiative.
It provides funding to nonprofits around the country
that are engaged in that work, engaged in helping people
prepare for the citizenship test,
prepare to meet their English language requirements.
We're also working to ensure that fees that people get
charged when they are going through the naturalization
process are not going up.
The economy changes and inflation happens and USCIS is
a fee-based agency so in many respects they have to,
as the years go on and the years progress,
they have to raise their fees.
But there are things that we think they can do in terms of
improving efficiency within the agency to keep fees,
particularly the naturalization fee constant.
So in this Administration we have not raised the
naturalization fee since we got here.
We have a strong commitment to keeping that fee constant,
particularly in this economic climate where we know that
people really want to become citizens but that economic
impediment, the fee impediment is something that is
challenging, right, for lots of people.
We're also working to -- we've established a consistent way for
people to get waivers for fees.
It's not something that we, you know,
USCIS has a particular fund that they have set aside for people
that want to come through the process and that aren't able to
economically pay the fees that they --
the fees to move their application through,
they can apply for a waiver.
There is a clear form that they can use.
There's clear standards that USCIS adjudicators use to make
that determination.
And over the last couple of years there have been quite a
few fee waivers processed and approved.
And just one more thing on the naturalization front and on the
USCIS front in general I would say,
USCIS is doing a really good job from our perspective and they
can always do more to engage immigrant communities and
communities that are impacted by the immigration system.
They have a huge office of public engagement that has
engaged in conversations about all kinds of immigration
visa programs.
They have started to this year --
over the last couple of years, I'm sorry --
to work towards engaging people in their native language.
So Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean,
trying to talk to people in the language that is the most
appropriate for them to get the information that they need about
the system.
And then the one other thing is USCIS revamped their entire
website when we first got here and one important feature that
they added was creating a way for people to get updates about
their applications via text or email.
I'm sure many of you have no people or maybe personally
experienced it yourself through legacy INS and other,
and the first USCIS, the first iteration of USCIS times where
people would submit their application and a year would go
by, they didn't know what happened with their application,
they didn't know where it was in the process,
and then they find out a year later that they have to actually
restart the process of naturalization.
They have lost that time.
Perhaps their check has been cashed.
But they're still having to restart the process.
That is something that this new way for checking where your
application is, where it is in the pipeline is something that
is designed to impact.
We want to make sure that people when they pay a fee their
application gets processed and they actually know where it is
in the process throughout the system and throughout the time
that they are going through the adjudication.
So that is something that we're proud of.
There is, like I said, there is always room to do more.
But we believe we have made some important steps to make the
system work better.
So, you know, I'm happy to answer a few questions about
what we're working on.
There is, I could talk forever about this issue so, you know,
I don't want to overload you, but happy to take questions,
a couple questions and then, you know,
I hope that you all enjoy the rest of your day.
I was reading, I was reading through the helpful information
that Gautam prepared for me and I just think that your mission
is really a great mission.
It is something, and your values,
that you believe in are something that matter to me as I
think about my work on the issue of immigration.
I noticed here that it said that in your vision you believe in
the promise of America and the talent of Korean Americans that
make that promise a reality.
I really think that that's what the immigration system is about
so, you know, I want us to work together as much as we can
collaboratively because I really think we share the same vision.
So, yeah, I would open it up for a couple of questions if people
have any?
Yin Jun Yeon: Hi.
My name is Yin Jun Yeon and I'm with the Korean American Women's
Chamber of Commerce.
On the issue of comprehensive immigration reform,
I understand that it is a very hot topic.
There are different views on both sides.
I understand that criminal issues and the workplace
enforcement issues, all of those are issues that I think there is
opposite, opposing sides.
But on the issue of family immigration,
I think as a country we are one united, you know,
on this issue is USA is, our country is based on
family unity.
We want to bring families together.
But in the area of family immigration the quota system
requires, makes families be separated too long.
I understand that U.S., spouses of U.S. citizen or children
under age 21, they can come in quickly.
But when you have a green card holder who just married his
beautiful wife in Korea, you are looking at about a three to
five year wait.
You have a U.S. citizen, sister or brother,
petitioning for their U.S. sister back in Korea,
that's a 20-year wait.
You are separating families.
So I think I am asking the Administration to look into this
one area of immigration.
Let's bring families together.
Let's unite families together.
Because if the families are together they help each other.
Family members who have, you know,
who have other family members here,
the new immigrants come to the United States and they can
adjust better.
It's just a transition period is one.
So if you could take that back to the Administration.
Felicia Escobar: Sure.
And I can say a little bit about that.
So the changes that you are talking about,
the changes to the family based, the per country caps,
the annual caps that are overall the number of green cards we can
issue every year is something that is actually a change that
we have to make in law unfortunately.
So that's something that we support.
We support the idea of changing the way the per
country caps work.
There is legislation that we have endorsed that is moving
through Congress right now.
We would include it in comprehensive immigration reform
but if it can move right now we would like it to.
And so what this legislation would do it would eliminate the
country caps that exist right now.
So right now there is a certain number of visas issues every
year for family and for employment.
But on top of that there is only 7% of those total numbers can be
used for one particular country.
And so what we would do is we would lift the caps on the
employment-based visa system.
That impacts a lot of folks from China, from India in particular.
On the family-based side we know that there is problems
with the caps.
And we would adjust the caps so instead of being a 7% cap we
would move it up to a 15% cap per country.
So that is something that we've supported.
We've endorsed.
It's actually something that has garnered bipartisan support in
the Congress so a bill passed out of the House of
Representatives pretty much unanimously.
There were a few folks that voted against it.
It is now pending in the Senate and there are negotiations going
on right now, ongoing negotiations to get that
legislation through.
You know, the issue with the immigration reform and
legislative reform is that because nothing significant has
moved really in the last 15 years a lot of people want,
if their thing, if that thing is going to move,
the people that have been working for 15 years on
something else want their thing to move, right?
So that's what's happening right now with the Senate bill --
with this bill that is pending on the per country caps.
Some people in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle,
frankly, want their piece of stuff included before they let
that bill go.
There are a lot of people working to advance that bill and
to help people address concerns so that the legislation can move
forward and we can share more information with you about that.
We welcome you all helping us in educating people on the Hill
about the fact that this is something that really should be
a no-brainer and we should really get through.
And I think they need to hear from as many people as possible
over in the Senate in order for this to get done.
So ... I can take one more question.
Are we done?
So Gautam told me we are done.
But he has my contact information and I am happy to,
you know, continue to dialogue with any and all of you.
And, yeah, thank you so much.
Enjoy the rest of your day.
Malcolm Lee: I always wanted to be David Hinson.
Ellen Kim: Well, thank you, everyone.
This is my great privilege to welcome both David Hinson and
Malcolm Lee from the Department of Commerce.
They are great partners with the work we do at the U.S. Small
Business Administration.
And so we'll just do a brief introduction of the two of them
and then allow them to do their remarks in terms of their areas
of priority.
So Malcolm Lee is currently the Counselor to the Secretary and
Director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning at the
U.S. Department of Commerce.
It ultimately means he works on many of the priorities of the
Administration and has the direct ear of Secretary Bryson.
His areas of focus include increasing exports and
investment and strengthening U.S. manufacturing
and innovation.
Malcolm has previous experience in the private sector,
has worked abroad in China and so works on many of the
Administration's policies that "focus on our shift and pivot
"to Asia."
David Hinson is the National Director for the Minority
Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
He oversees an extensive staff and team of couple across the
country that are working on behalf of minority-owned
small businesses.
He has assisted many minority-owned businesses in
obtaining nearly $7 billion in contracts and capital.
This is very important because actually the U.S. government is
the number one customer of goods and services in the world,
so making sure that minorities are an important participant in
that is essential to creating new jobs for our communities.
So with that I'd like to turn it over to Malcolm to do some
remarks in terms of his areas of priority.
Malcolm Lee: Thanks, Ellen.
And I want to thank, first thank all of you for being here.
You know, as Chris said this morning,
participation really matters.
And your being here as Korean leaders really makes a
big difference.
I remember, you know, when I started my career after college
there was a recession going on and I went to work in the
U.S. Senate.
And I could count the number of, you know,
Asian Pacific Americans outside of the offices from Hawaii on
pretty much one or two hands in the Senate.
And now I go back and I see Asian Americans, you know,
throughout public service.
So your voice needs to be heard and we appreciate it because we
learn from you when you speak up.
And it's great to see some old friends, you.
Know, speaking of participation I want to call out Mark Kim for
his great leadership in stepping up and being a public official.
And as part of the President's economic development,
I want to take it just a step back,
take a step back and talk about what President Obama and his
Administration is fighting for.
And we're fighting for the basic American promise that, you know,
with education and hard work and you can raise your family,
you can send your kids to college,
you can save a bit for retirement.
And that's the story of the Asian Pacific American community
and the Korean American community.
It's very much my family's story.
My father, you know, my father was born in the U.S.
In his family's small business, they had a laundry,
he had a penny per shirt he ironed.
You know, he served in the South Pacific.
And went to college on the G.I. Bill and ended up working for a
pharmaceutical company for his career.
My mother was a social worker, raised in New York, Chinatown.
Her father was a civic leader and she spent her career as a --
counseling troubled youth and learning disabled kids in the
Philadelphia public and faith-based schools.
So I think there is a dream that we are all fighting to build
upon and maintain.
And where we are right now is where, you know,
as an Administration and as a country we are fighting our way
back from the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Eight million jobs were lost.
That's our inheritance.
And, you know, this economy, as Chris said,
has created private sector jobs for 27 straight months.
A total of 4.3 million jobs have been added back.
And the President knows what it takes to put folks back to work.
And you heard Chris Lu talk about the to-do list.
I won't go into it here.
You know, we need cooperation.
We need your support.
We need action by Congress as well.
As Ellen said, I lead the Secretary of Commerce's
Policy Team.
Our job at Commerce is to help American companies grow and
create jobs.
The Department of Commerce, I will just take a moment on that,
is essentially a holding company to boost jobs.
We focus on trade.
We have the International Trade Administration.
We focus on national security.
We have the, we administer the export control laws along with
state and DOD.
We focus on economic development and I'll leave that to my
colleague David who is leading MBDA.
Innovation, we have the National Institute of Standards,
everything from standards to cyber security.
The National Telecommunications Information Agency working on,
you know, 21st century infrastructure,
of broadband and spectrum and other things.
The Patent and Trademark offices ensuring that we are at the
cutting edge of innovation.
And science.
We have NOAA which handles weather, oceans, fish.
And we have, we do the economic statistics.
We have the Economic Statistics Agency which administers the
census as well as the Economic Statistics Agency which
announces our economic numbers.
You know, we support the President's agenda to create an
America built to last.
And we are answering in our best way we can the President's call
to out-educate, out-compete, out-innovate and out-sell
our competitors.
You know, Secretary Bryson, as a former CEO has said, you know,
we need to focus.
And he has selected three priorities for us.
One is manufacturing.
The second is exports.
And the third is investment.
You know.
And his goal as he stated is for America to make it here and sell
it everywhere.
So I have been asked to focus a bit on trade and I will just
touch on some highlights.
Again, the President has set forth a very ambitious goal to
double U.S. exports globally by 2015.
And why do we do that?
Because 95% of consumers live outside the United States.
And there is a very -- there is a rising middle class
throughout the world.
Our core belief is that American businesses,
given a level playing field, can compete and win anywhere.
And that's our job.
The National Export Initiative has three major tenets.
One is to open foreign markets.
Two is to address unfair trade practices.
And third is to promote U.S. exports.
And I can talk more in detail in Q&A on any of those.
Let's go to the results because that's what we should be
measured on.
You know, for the first time in U.S. history,
annual U.S. exports of goods and services crossed $2 trillion
in 2011.
This is important because in that year export supported
almost 10 million U.S. jobs.
Over a million more than in 2009.
Exports are up 36% since 2009.
You know, clearly we face some headwinds with global growth
slowing but the Administration is working very hard with key
governments abroad and leaders abroad on economic stability and
restoring growth both here at home and abroad.
And we are ramping up our efforts on export promotion even
in this challenging climate.
The President has -- you've heard about the pivot to Asia.
We do have increasing folks on Asia,
whether it's from the security standpoint, across the board,
economic standpoint, it's because it's the fastest growing
and one of the most dynamic economies which all of you know.
You know, we've had a very, very active dialogue with China
through the strategic and economic dialogue and the joint
commission on commerce and trade.
The Korea Trade Agreement is absolutely historic.
It is, it is cutting edge and precedent setting.
And we're taking it even further with a new Transpacific
Partnership Agreement which we're active negotiating high
standard, again, even more cutting edge,
hopefully it will be a model for trade agreements with other
countries and potentially even the WTO eventually.
You know, this creates an incredible opportunity for all
Americans but I think particularly the Korea Trade
Agreement for Korean Americans.
And just a few words on Chorus.
You know, Korea is our third largest trading partner --
we are Korea's third largest trading partner and Korea is our
seventh largest trading partner.
The grant eliminate tariffs on over 95% of consumer industrial
tariffs within five years.
Tariff reductions alone are expected to boost U.S. exports
by 10 to 12 billion annually supporting more than 70,000 jobs
here in the U.S. and make our companies more competitive in
the Korean market.
And who benefits from this?
Yes, large companies benefit from this.
But here are some interesting facts:
You know, SMEs are the backbone of our U.S. economy,
as you know, and the primary source of jobs for Americans.
These businesses grow faster when they export.
With respect to Chorus, you know, in 19 -- in 2009,
there were 20,000 companies that,
U.S. companies that exported Korea.
Of this, over 89% were small and medium-size enterprises.
And these SMEs supported 8.4 billion in merchandise exports
to Korea, representing almost a third of U.S. exports
in that year.
So great opportunities for business.
Finally, beyond exports, again I said we're focused on
manufacturing, exports and investment.
Investment, President Obama has identified as a major priority.
There was a time not very long ago when America was the default
country to invest in.
Right now there is a lot of places in the world to invest.
There are a lot of places that are growing.
The Commerce Department and the President fully understand that
we have to compete for investment.
And we have, the President announced an initiative,
Select USA, that is housed in the Commerce Department that is
going to assist both foreign companies that are investing in
the U.S. working with local leaders, local businesses,
local universities, and help U.S. companies expand in the
United States.
So again this is a very high priority.
We're going to compete.
And we're going to win.
With that, I'll turn it over to my colleague David.
Ellen Kim: Thanks, Malcolm.
David Hinson: Thanks.
Thanks, Malcolm.
And given the fact that Malcolm borrowed every one of my
talking points --
-- I have very little to say to you.
Thank you, very much.
I am going back to work.
No, I appreciate you being here.
It's certainly thanks to Ellen Kim and, you know,
we've had a great time working together at SBA.
SBA is a sister agency to us as well Esther Lee who is a former
Department of Commerce colleague and friend.
And it's just been a joy participating with you.
And last night, for those of you who did not have a chance to
make the reception, there was a wonderful reception.
I was angling to get my picture taken by the
celebrity photographer.
And I feel like if I can get him to take my picture and then get
him to photo shop it in with a picture of Lady GaGa,
I think I would be ready to go.
Ellen Kim: We'll work on that.
David Hinson: Please work on that.
What I am going to just talk about the Minority Business
Development Agency and then I want to spend some time talking
about the Korean American business community so we can try
to get -- help you understand what we do as an agency.
We are a job-creating agency.
We are the only agency in the federal government tasked to
promote the growth and global competitiveness of
minority-owned and operated firms which is inclusive of
Korean American companies.
We manage a national network of business development
business centers.
Interestingly enough that in the cities with the largest
populations of Korean American businesses we have centers in
each one of those cities.
And I will tell you why I put a pin there and I will tell you
why that's important to us.
But when you think about the Korean American business
community you are talking about a community that essentially is
composed of 200,000 companies that generates $78.3 billion of
gross receipts every year.
And employs 423,000 people.
The average minority-owned business in America generates
about $178,000 of gross revenue annually.
The average Korean American business generates about
$406,000 annually.
So the Korean American business is about 2.3 times as large as
the average minority-owned business in America.
When you look at it compared to general businesses,
it's only slightly smaller than the average business in America.
The average business generates about $500,000 of revenue.
So let's put this in perspective.
When you think about the fact that the South Korean economy,
15th largest economy in the world, 1.1 trillion in GDP,
nice size economy, a lot of the good potential,
a lot of the good growth.
The Korean American business community with that $78 billion
is about 7, 8% of the South Korean community.
But if you took that community outside of the United States and
called it a nation, it would be the 63rd richest nation on the
face of the earth with an economy bigger than Ecuador,
Croatia, and the Dominican Republic.
I say that to say that this is a community that has extraordinary
economic power.
Extraordinary economic power.
And when you combine the Korean American community with the
broader Asian American community,
you are talking about a community that generates half of
the total economic output of the nation's minority
business community.
That's $500 billion a year.
And accounts for 50% of all employees
generated by minority on an operated businesses.
This is a huge sector and thus is a huge opportunity.
What we want to do and what we are here to do is to help these
companies grow.
What we do is provide access to contracts and capital and access
to new markets.
And in that respect, last year we assisted minority-owned and
operated firms and gaining access to $4 billion of
contracts and capital.
But here's the problem.
The problem is only about 139 million of that went to the
Asian-American community, and a subset of that 139 million went
to the career American business community which is why I'm here,
which is why I need your help to figure out what we need to do to
engage this community much more closely.
Now, that 139 million is 92% increase over the prior year.
So we've been making headway in our outreach efforts,
far from sufficient, relative to the period of the
Obama Administration.
And I'm going to update your numbers.
We've actually helped minority owned firms gain access to
$11 billion, not $7, $11 billion of contracts and capital.
Which is a 101% increase over the prior administration.
But within the Asian-American community,
and again the Korean American community as a subset,
we have assisted these firms in gaining $255 million of
$11 billion.
That's problematic and I think we all would agree with that.
Now that's a 13% increase over the prior administration.
But when you look at the economic power and the economic
velocity of the Korean American business community we have to do
a lot more.
Only 37% of Korean American owned businesses actually create
jobs, actually have employees.
So we have to get those numbers up and following on
Malcolm's point.
This community has a huge potential to create jobs,
both domestically and also through export opportunities.
Minority-owned firms in general are the best export capabilities
of any sector in the U.S. economy.
And this won't surprise you when you look at the fact that,
when you look at the statistics that came out of the U.S.
census, minority-owned firms are twice as likely to export,
three times as likely to be pure exporters,
but there's one that really always catches me.
Minority business managers, Korean American business
managers are more than six times as likely to transact business
in the language other than English than nonminority-owned
business managers.
And so what we have to do is figure out how we can work
together to actually take this business community that's
generating, you know, a solid -- keep in mind that the Korean
American business communities are representing 3% of the firm,
minority-owned firms, represent 7% of the gross receipts.
This community in every category,
where you look at average family income, $89,000,
you know one of the highest per capital income of any sector of
the economy, unemployment rate, 4%,
one of the lowest unemployment rates for any sector in the
U.S. economy.
We have to find ways to work together and that's why
we are here.
We are here to help these companies grow.
So let me spend a second before we go into Q&A talking about the
economic opportunities that exist in partnership with MBDA.
You know again, I mentioned earlier we have 40 business
centers and the top 10 cities with the largest Korean American
populations -- Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Chicago,
and so on, like that we have centers in each one of
those cities.
So we need your assistance in helping create the American
business community engage us.
So that's one opportunity.
Another opportunity for those who do federal contracting --
how many people do federal contracting, anybody?
We have a few.
We just launched leadership of President Obama,
the first federal procurement center that's designed to
specifically provide services to minority-owned Korean-American
owned businesses to help them gain the skills, access,
and information to better compete for and win
federal contracts.
That business center is here in Washington, D.C., it's staffed.
And so we want you to engage us if you were doing government
contracting so we can help you gain better access to contract,
to government contracts.
Every year we do a conference called Med Week September 24th
to 27th which is a very good opportunity to come meet
procurement people from the government,
meet senior executives from Fortune 500 corporations and we
want to help you get into their domestic and global
supply chains.
And that's a new focus of the agency.
Finally, and I'm going to follow up on Malcolm's comments.
I cannot underscore enough of the economy opportunity that
exists for chorus.
The economy opportunity that exists with taking the goods and
services that are created in the Korean American business
community and exporting them not just to Korea,
to other parts of the world.
So we are refashioning ourselves,
that is MBDA to be a part of the export apparatus of the
federal government.
It's a new and exciting and innovative effort that we
are undertaking.
And I tell you that since we started this effort a year ago
we've done 60 export transactions as an agency that
total somewhere around $300 million.
So we are on our way -- it's slow, but we are on our way.
So what I need you to do is to engage our agency.
I'm going to give you my contact information.
Again my name is David Hinson, H-I-N-S-O-N.
My phone number is 202-482 -- I know you think this is crazy,
but I'm going to do this, this is how committed I am --
-- 202-482-2332.
You can email me at DHinson@MBDA.gov.
If you have a company and you want to grow your company and
partner with us, and not just us,
but the Department of Commerce, because we really do work as one
commerce, if you have a friend that has a company that needs
assistance, strategic support technical support in growing
their business, please contact us, contact me,
and we'll refer you to a center.
If you don't know which way you want to go with business but you
think you can employ someone, definitely contact us.
We'll help you find a person to employ and we'll help encourage
you to employ someone.
And as you talk to your colleagues,
some of whom employ one or two people,
some of whom employ no people, encourage them to take the step
to think through the process of changing the business model,
pick up one additional employee.
Because those of you who have employees,
you know that it's one thing to work yourself,
and before I came into government,
I actually ran a company, I managed money for wealthy
individuals and families.
So I know a little bit about wealth creation.
It's one thing to manage the company and do it yourself,
and be a sole proprietorship.
It's a very different business model when you say --
I'm going to bring someone on -- I'm going to think through how
do I make payroll -- I'm going to think through benefits --
I'm going to think through retirement plans.
But what those thoughts force you to do is is to think about
how you're going to grow your top line.
And you begin to think about new ways of growing your business,
new markets.
And then you begin to think about strategic partners.
And when you get to that point you should be thinking about
U.S. Department of Commerce and the Minority Development Agency.
So I'll stop there and I look forward to your questions.
Ellen Kim: We are going to make sure everyone on the live stream got
your phone number as well.
So thanks for that.
So in the interest of time, I think we actually only have time
for one question.
So I'm hoping it's a great one.
Sure, go ahead.
Samantha Chong: I'll be brief.
My name is Samantha Chong.
I represent Washington General Trade and Federal Government
consulting firm.
In the last, you know, 13 years that I have been servicing with
Korean and American business firms from Mainland Korea and
here in the United States who are pursuing federal government
opportunities and I have one issue that I want to address,
including Ellen and also two suggestions, and I'll be brief.
First, the issue is this has been ongoing and challenging
across the federal government agricultures.
It's about unbundling the federal government contracts.
I think, first of all, before I address the issue,
I think in the global, U.S. Federal Government for the
federal acquisition regulation is the best system because I
experienced how Korean government and they put their
efforts forth in terms of bringing small businesses and
isolate businesses in terms of the government supplying,
government contracts.
I know a lot of Korean government representatives come
to visit general service administrations and SBA's,
trying to model our small business advocacy programs.
So I just wanted to express my gratitude in terms of the small
business advocacy, in the minority,
women-owned businesses.
As a matter of fact, SBA has done a great job.
Now the women-owned small businesses,
one of the six federal certifications,
so that is encouraging news to the women-owned
business sectors.
The first issue, is the unbundling -- I don't know --
I have to explain furthermore -- but especially in the
challenging technology solution areas.
For example, green buildings, sustainability, all of that,
many advanced technology areas of industry,
it is a challenge to a lot of federal government agency
programs, officers, and the contracting officers.
If you sit in the cubical all day long,
unless you go outside of your realm of business,
day-to-day and learn the new technology of what is going on.
And whenever I read federal government solicitations it's
totally so bundled.
I know it takes extra work to unbundle the contracts in
specialty technology areas.
But I don't know how across the border the agency,
policy advisers and actual contracting officers who write
the specifications.
Well, to me specification is not specific enough.
And you know when I meet with a lot of small business people
with great solutions, technology, ideas,
when you actually see unbundled, technical parts of the
solicitation, it's easier for a small business who can go ahead
and work with the large businesses and contribute the
small business participation goals there.
So it's a challenging issue, but I think we need to find the way
to address the unbundling contract issues.
Second one is suggestion.
From my experiences I have met with a lot of Korean American
small businesses, have great technology ideas and such.
And some of the Korean business firms that I have experience
with from Korea, they have great technology and solutions.
But they have a tendency of not understanding the biggest,
the customer on the global U.S. federal government,
and they just want to kind of put their hands down and hope
somebody here in the U.S. to deliver their products and
services, and promote their businesses.
I would like to suggest the idea of promoting joint
venture system.
Any foreign business affirms following Kia, Hyundai,
they are business models.
When they come here first they must transfer technology,
create the jobs.
So it's no longer somebody comes here, sells products,
wash your hands, go back to Korea, say, adios.
It's got to be a joint venture system and there's got to be
some type of tax benefit, some type of incentive that we can --
Ellen Kim: So, I'm gonna just -- unfortunately,
I'm going to have to cut you off --
Samantha Chong: I'm sorry.
Ellen Kim: No, it's okay.
If somebody has a 30 second response --
Samantha Chong: I have your email, so I'll follow up.
David Hinson: You do have my email.
Quickly on the unbundling thing --
absolutely right, get it and not to shorten the response,
but it's actually something we are looking into and have been
over the last year.
It's an issue of how to do it in light of the additional costs
that unbundling creates.
But I think you're absolutely right.
It's something that the President has touched upon.
Valerie Jarrett, who runs the Interagency Task Force,
small minority business contracting has touched upon it.
So it's something we are looking at.
Malcolm Lee: One thing, with respect to the Korea trade agreement it's a 100
billion-dollar market.
The trade agreement creates a more level plan for U.S.
producers, incredible provisions on eCommerce,
cross better services, so your clients should take a look at
whether they consult to the Korean government.
Ellen Kim: I'm going to ask everyone to join me in thanking David and
Malcolm for their time.
Esther Lee: Hi, I'm Esther Lee.
I'm one of the founders and currently serve as vice-chair of
the Council of Korean Americans.
Welcome to this briefing.
It's an honor to be here as a former administration member to
hear from some of my old colleagues.
And today I have the distinct honor of moderating a discussion
on the issue that we all care about which is foreign policy
and U.S/Korean relations.
And for this discussion we have two very distinguished speakers.
Harold Hongju Koh needs no introduction.
I think everybody knows who he is.
But he currently serves as the legal advisor at the
Department of State.
He's a well-known expert on public and private
international law.
Prior to joining the administration he served as Dean
of Yale Law School for five years.
And you taught there for about 16 years.
He's a graduate -- he also served in two --
Harold Hongju Koh: Twenty-five years.
Esther Lee: Oh, I did my math wrong.
He served in two administrations prior to that as assistant
Secretary of State for democracy human rights and labor
under Clinton.
And also in the Justice Department under Reagan.
So I'd love to know how he's been able to do both,
democrat and, so republican.
He graduated from Harvard, Oxford, and Harvard Law school.
He has 11 honorary degrees, which I'm sure makes your Korean
parents very happy.
And we are very, very, happy to have you here.
And to his left we have with us, Syd Seiler who's the director
for Korea at the National Security Staff at
the White House.
He joined the NSS about a year ago from the senior --
before that he was deputy national intelligence manager
for North Korea as the directorate for
national intelligence.
And I'm most interested in your experience in the national
clandestine service at the CIA which probably means you were
like James Bond, right?
He spent 30 years in and around Korean issues.
And in fact, he's fluent in Korean.
He's spent 12 years living in Korea,
he's married to a Korean-American,
so all of you should feel encouraged to ask him questions
in Korean.
He has a master's in Korean studies from Yonsei and has a
master's in theology from Chesapeake Reformed
Theological Seminary.
Little known fact, he's actually served as the English minister
at a Korean-American church.
So without further ado, thank you so much for joining us.
I'll start with Harold.
Other than Joseph Hahn and Lincoln Park you are the closest
thing our community has to a rock star.
And I know you've played a critical role on very important
recent events, like the Chinese civil rights activist
Chen Guangchang.
Could you tell us a little bit about your role?
What exactly does a legal advisor do at the C Department?
Harold Hongju Koh: Well, first of all, thank you, Esther for hosting
this briefing.
Secondly, you mentioned my honorary degrees and why my
parents are proud.
They are proud because they didn't have to pay tuition.
And also, at the end of the sunsengnim,
I have these periods where I spend time in government,
but I will always return to the role of teacher.
This was something that both of my parents told me.
In fact, my first job in the government was a lawyer in the
Reagan Administration.
And when I told my late father that I was going to be a lawyer,
he said, well, you know, that's the second most dishonorable
profession in Korea.
And I said, what's the most dishonorable.
And he said actor.
And then when I became a lawyer in the Justice Department,
he said you're a lawyer for an actor?
So as you can tell my parents, my father and mother,
were always satisfied with everything we did.
But why I think it's exciting to be here in this gathering of
Korean American leaders at the White House is just how
remarkable that is.
I mean, think about it for a second,
that this group of leaders, here talking about Korean affairs,
that seems about as likely as if the President of the United
States would be an African-American or that three
of the last four secretaries of State would be women,
that the ambassador Korea is a Korean American, Sung Kim,
or that people like myself or my brother, Howard Kyongju Koh,
who is the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services
could be serving the United States in these important roles.
So, this shows how far we've come.
I know that many of the more senior members of this audience
remember when you had to explain to people where Korea was,
what's the difference between Korea, Vietnam, Laos,
Japan, China.
We had to explain what the difference is between North and
South Korea.
And now remarkably my parents, my mother came from Seoul.
My father is from Kendajo and I'm surprised by how many people
I meet and who have visited Kendajo.
All right, and I hope you all do as well.
This is only the important point that I hope will override what
both said and I will said, which is this is a mature relationship
between the United States and Korea.
We have moved from alliance forged in blood to an alliance
forged in common interest, to opposing common threats to now a
global partnership based on common values,
which I think is extraordinarily important for all of us.
Back in the old days, Korean American parents would not
encourage their children to become foreign policy experts or
political people.
They wanted us to be scientists.
Because they thought we would win the Nobel prize.
So of course the first Korean to win the Nobel prize,
Kim Dae-jung won for politics and human rights and peace which
showed again how correct our parents were.
Now, my job as legal advisor, I'm coming up on the third year,
I am Hillary Clinton's lawyer and my client also includes
President Obama.
I am the head of an international law firm of 200
plus lawyers, about 350 people.
We have 24 functional offices that cover the range of U.S.
foreign policy, diplomatic issues, political military,
economic in business, intelligence,
as well as regional offices which include an East Asia and
Pacific office.
I think we play four basic roles.
I am a counselor to the secretary, general council.
I am a litigator in the sense that I represent the United
States in any international tribunal in which we are sued,
which includes, for example, the international court of justice,
the criminal tribunals, the UN forum,
in which our legal arguments are questioned as well as domestic
litigation involving international issues.
Third, negotiator on treaties and other kinds of
international arrangements.
And sometimes that involves being an action officer as in
the recent case of Chen Guangchang which occurred when I
was in Beijing and we worked to secure his entry into the U.S.
Embassy in his eventual move to New York where I visited him a
few days ago at NYU Law School with his family.
And finally, I think we are a kind of conscience for the U.S.
government with regard to compliance with international
law and human rights.
We have a close tie to the academic community.
I think most fundamentally, the legal advisor is supposed to
tell the secretary both what legal eesha can do,
and what as a matter of our global standards we should not
do, because it will affect your legitimacy in
international environment.
And I think that one of the accomplishments of this
administration has been to work with partners like Korea on
global standards.
There is a range of issues on which we cooperate,
as soon as our experts on national security on economic
policy, environmental issues, human rights,
democracy building, in each of those areas,
we look to our colleagues from the Republic of Korea to have a
commitment to the same global standards.
In other words, it's not on American values being forced on
Asia or vice-versa.
It's a common commitment that grew out of a set of shared
experiences and common values.
I think that this partnership is extraordinarily important.
I cannot tell you how exciting it is to me that the Secretary
General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon is from Korea that
the President of the international criminal court,
President Sang-Hyun Song is a professor of Seoul National
University, that a current American,
Jim Yong Kim is the head of the World Bank or will be the head
of the World Bank, and that in U.S. foreign policy increasingly
there are Koreans participating at every level,
Koreans and Korean-Americans.
I mentioned Sung Kim.
But I came from this morning's senior meeting at the State
Department and there were four Korean or Korean Americans
sitting in different positions at the table.
And this would have been unthinkable, years ago.
There's also a Japanese-American,
we allowed him to sit with us as well.
And we suggested that other individuals sit on the other
side of the table.
So --
Esther Lee: Great, thank you so much.
Syd, we've all been watching North Korea and its actions
since Konjoyan took over last December,
particularly with the missile test as well as the recent
threats to bomb South Korean media outlets.
Can you talk about sort of our strategy and approach in dealing
with the new regime and what's the future of six party talks?
Syd Seiler: Thank you, Esther.
And I would like to open again with a word of appreciation for
the opportunity to speak here today.
Thirty years ago I made my first trip to the Republic of Korea as
a young soldier in the military in 1982 as the memories of 1979,
1980, the tumultuous events of those years --
domestically the political evolution,
the economic evolution of the Republic of Korea that
accelerated in the 1980's, during the 1990's and into
the 2000's.
And, I like to tell my friends I knew Korea before
hallyu was cool.
And it's been a -- it's been a lifelong experience of watching
political and economic, and indeed security theories played
out on a peninsula that remains quite fascinating.
The one regrettable constant, however,
in many ways is the democratic people's Republic of Korea,
which because of the way the system has been established,
the way it has created a hermetical seal that seems to
make it impervious to the pressures, the flows of history,
democratization, information flows, economic changes.
So much so that in the early days of what we see with the Kim
dae-jung leadership is something that is marked I think in one
word consistency.
And it's not a surprising consistency.
We would not expect the government of North Korea,
the regime, the world view or the strategic goals of that
regime to change overnight.
It's really in many ways, somewhat of the nature of,
I guess the 24/7 news cycle and expectations to ask the
question: What has changed in North Korea?
Indeed, it's way too early to tell.
But that speaks to the heart of our policy toward North Korea
which has been consistent since the President first took office,
and he established early on a willingness to engage with those
countries who are willing to unclench their fists and reach
out, articulating that we have no hostile intent,
no inherent hostile intent towards the DPRK that we are
committed to peace and we are committed to an improvement
of relations.
But one that was fundamentally built upon,
a seriousness of purpose on North Korea's part toward the
denuclearization of the Korean peninsula toward renouncing
provocations as a standard tool of their course of diplomacy.
And early on, North Korea challenged that approach with
their role out of a tapado missile which they launched in
2009 followed by nuclear tests.
And of course, we know the two regrettable incidents of 2010
with the sinking of the Cheonan and then the shelling
of Yeonpyeong-do.
In all of these cases, centered to our North Korea policy has
been the strong reliance with the Republic of Korea,
strong alliance as Harold noted that has really matured into a
-- it's a forward oriented, future oriented,
coequal partnership.
Around which, you know, concerns or fears or vulnerabilities to
North Korea; that's an incessant concern about (indiscernible),
that if somehow we engage in the United States with DPRK the
South would be shut off.
Putting all those things aside and looking forward to the
future, the partnership that we've been able to establish
with Seoul for the past three areas has really helped us to
change the calculus with North Korea so that they no longer can
use these provocations as a tool of coercion,
that they no longer can execute a missile launch and expect us
to come suing for dialogue, that a nuclear test is not going to
get us running around to figure out what next we can put on the
table to induce into dialogue.
So I think you know a firm consistency,
an openness to dialogue, but only dialogue that is we have
some degree of confidence that North Korea is serious about and
will live up to its commitments.
And you know, sharpening the choices to the young leadership
in Pyongyang.
There are two futures available and the President made this
clear in a very historic presentation (inaudible) --
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies,
where he made it clear to the Pyongyang people.
There's a future out there that is brighter,
involves the same economic political and human rights
benefits that the Republic of Korea has and its up to the
leadership to make a choice.
Esther Lee: Great.
Harold Koh: If I could just say something?
Esther Lee: Please.
Harold Koh: I visited North Korea twice when I was a student.
Like many of you, I went to the Demilitarized Zone,
walked around the table in Panmunjeom,
but in December of 2000 I went to Pyongyang with Secretary
Albright for four or five days, and we had extensive meetings
with Kim Jong-il and a group of other individuals.
And it was a remarkable experience, as you can imagine.
At one point, for example, the motorcade went ahead to a rally
and I was still at the guest house where we were staying,
so I actually hailed a spare car,
one of Kim Jong-il's burgundy Mercedes,
and was driven to the stadium.
And I, you know, came in the back and sat with some North
Korean people watching the rally,
and then I sort of made my way over to where the American
delegation was, and there are a couple of things that
should be clear.
You know, one is that I think the North Korean people see the
difference between the life of the South and the life
they're leading.
Somebody said to me once, you know,
we're talking about Koreans here.
They are very highly-motivated individuals.
And to see at the human-to-human level how dispirited people
were, they don't have electricity,
the government cannot provide for basic nutritional needs or
human rights, and they are fully aware, I think,
although through whatever mechanisms of information that
there is a different possibility ahead.
And when we left Seoul, or Pyongyang to fly to Seoul,
which as you know is only an hour away,
we took off from Pyongyang in pitch dark because they were
conserving electricity, there was a tiny run of lights.
And then only ten minutes later we could see Seoul from the air,
which as you know, if you've come in to the airport,
was just brilliantly lit.
And I thought nothing could be a better illustration of
the difference.
You know, these are the same people,
the only difference is one side is ruled by a dictatorship,
the other side is ruled by democracy.
One side is impoverished and cannot feed itself,
the other side is enormously successful and energetic.
And we landed then in Seoul, which as you know is sort of a,
you know, a turbulent, exciting metropolis,
vibrant and full of life, when we had just left a completely
dead feeling place where nobody was on the street,
there was no nightlife.
And in some way, although it was very sad,
I had the very strong impression that this cannot go on forever.
It really can't.
I mean, I just, the choice is too stark,
and the advantages of the kind of participation and alliance
that we have with the Republic of Korea are just too obvious.
So I think that our parents have always said when will this
change, when will this change?
The answer is we don't know.
But I have complete confidence that it will happen soon.
Esther Lee: Great.
So Harold, I think China is now the largest trading partner for
many Asian companies.
I know, Malcolm, you spoke about this, including Korea.
Can you talk more broadly about this Administration's policies
for Asia, broadly, and sort of strategies in your thoughts
around the U.S.-Korean relations and sort of the future of
that partnership.
Harold Koh: Well, Syd could obviously say a lot more about the pivot to Asia
and the strategic relationship.
I just came from the strategic and economic dialogue between
China and the United States, where four Cabinet members,
Secretary Clinton, Secretary Geitner,
Trade Representative Kirk and Commerce Secretary Bryson,
plus some 250 senior officials attended for an incredibly broad
range of discussion from Afghanistan to trade to human
rights to civil society cooperation, et cetera.
The Chen incident occurred while we were there,
and I think it was, again, an illustration that the days of a
zero-sum relationship, if they ever existed, are over.
That the relationship is strong enough now to support a serious
dialogue on some of the most difficult questions.
And I think the pivotal role of the Republic of Korea in this
relationship, it is the go-to partner on virtually every
discussion about regional cooperation,
the various Asian fora, ways in which trade, commerce,
can deepen the ties, people-to-people relationships,
and the like.
I'll ask Syd to say more.
Syd Seiler: No, I agree, that's a very good way to capture the significance
of the event that you were participating in,
in particular as it occurred during the strategic and
economic dialogue, is for the Republic of Korea, you know,
we early on in the Administration completed a joint
vision statement during President Lee Myung-bak's 2009
visit, which has really provided the framework for the
relationship, and perhaps even more importantly,
it provided a framework in which President Lee in the pursuit of
his global Korea initiative began to take a more outward
engagement in diplomacy.
I remember a friend of mine, a professor in Korea who was
involved in some of the foreign policy discussions,
the goal for Seoul was to move its foreign policy orientation
outside of this exclusively all foreign policies in the Korean
stand-off to looking outward to the world, getting involved,
hosting the G20, hosting the Nuclear Security Summit,
sending a provisional reconstruction team
to Afghanistan.
And indeed, in every aspect of our policy, economic, security,
diplomatic, in Asia, the Republic of Korea is center
and right there.
And we have an equal partnership,
the personal relationship between the Presidents
translates into incredible cooperation between our State
Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The mil-to-mil relationship has a long history,
so you're exactly right.
The, at the centerpiece, the linchpin, the cornerstone,
we change the name depending on the set of talking points --
Of our policy in the Asia Pacific Region is the
relationship with the Republic of Korea.
Esther Lee: So I just have one last quick question.
I encourage all of you to think of some questions for our
distinguished speakers.
So quickly, Harold, you've had an incredibly accomplished
career and you're a hero in our community.
What's next for you?
You've also been mentioned many times as a potential candidate
for Supreme Court Justice.
But I'd be curious to hear, you know,
do you plan to be in the next, second administration,
if there is one?
Any thoughts you can share with us?
Harold Koh: Well, my immediate plan is I'd like to go on vacation.
No, it's true, really, you know, these are tough jobs,
and it really takes a lot of work, and, you know,
the pay is not the greatest.
Esther Lee: You're in public service.
Harold Koh: And, yeah, we're in public service,
and that and $7 buys you a sandwich at Cosi next door.
So, but, I can't tell you, this is my 32nd year since I
graduated from law school, but it's also the tenth year that
I've been in the U.S. government.
And the transformation I think is huge.
There was a time when I started where, you know,
I was the only Asian in the room pretty much all the time,
where if we were meeting with Asian partners the assumption
was what am I doing on our side of the table.
Where the, you know, the diversity of America was not so
clear in its foreign policy as it is now.
And it's been very exciting to participate.
I will say one thing to this group of leaders,
which is that in your own communities,
the Republic of Korea understands the need for a deep
global connection in a way that many parts of the United
States do not.
I'll never forget I was teaching international trade law at Yale
Law School during the Uruguay Round, and I went to Seoul,
and I had a lunch with a university faculty,
and there were 18 members of that university faculty
who taught trade.
And I taught trade for Yale once every third year.
And we went around and I said, I told them what I taught,
then I said what do you teach?
And they said Kim Medical Devices, Kim, you know,
intellectual property.
Kim --
And we also at the time, this was the early days of the
Internet, where we were receiving our signals at you
remember 28.8 baud per second, and I pointed this out,
and they all laughed and they said we have 56.6.
So I think that, interestingly, it's one thing to talk to your
communities here in the United States about Korean interests,
but it's also important to talk about the interests and need to
stay global.
I mean, the idea that somehow we're going to have a successful
economic recovery without a full engagement with the global
economy, which is obviously deeply interconnected,
or that the appropriate response in a time of recession is to
become more insular, I think that, you know,
defies basic economic rules.
Esther Lee: So you successfully didn't answer my question,
so maybe you'll run for office someday.
Harold Koh: That was the point.
Esther Lee: Okay, with that I'd love to take some questions,
and the only question you can't ask is how to get your kid
into Yale.
That you cannot ask.
Harold Koh: Study hard, study hard.
Audience Member: Hello, my name is Sun He Jong [phonetic].
I work for the World Bank, also do some pro bono work for Good
Friends U.S.A.
My question is to Mr. Koh regarding the Korea-U.S. Free
Trade Agreement.
You may know that there has been a lot of tension in South Korea
regarding this issue, and what I hear a lot from South Korean
media is that the core problem is the different status as a law
that's been perceived in Korea and in the U.S.
So in Korea, the law has to be changed a lot because this Free
Trade Agreement is regarded as an international law in Korea.
As -- while, in U.S., it is considered as a domestic
agreement -- agreement international,
but it doesn't really affect the U.S. domestic law.
So when there's any conflict going on between the two laws,
then U.S. doesn't have to really worry about it, just ignore,
and then South Korea has to change their law to
comply for it.
So I believe and I trust you are the real expert in the law,
so as the expert in law -- and I also believe that you have
balanced interest in both countries,
I really want to hear your opinion and the clarification,
because it really concerns me a lot.
Thank you.
Esther Lee: Can we keep our questions really short,
because we're short on time.
Thanks, Harold.
Harold Koh: So let me answer at two levels.
The most important level, my father liked to say Koreans are
great people, but make sure their aspirations are dominant
as opposed to their fears.
Koreans worry.
One reason the Koreans accomplish so much is they worry
all the time.
But, you know, there's a bright future ahead.
Every day there's problems, but there's a bright future ahead.
And the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement is the most important
Free Trade Agreement the U.S. has signed in nearly 20 years.
On the legal point, which is pretty straightforward,
at the international plane, both the U.S. and Korea are bound as
a matter of international law by this agreement.
There's a different form as a matter of domestic law.
The United States does not do trade agreements by treaty,
which are advised and consented to by two-thirds of the Senate.
They do them by Congressional Executive Agreement.
This has been done since 1933 pursuant to authority under the
Trade Agreements Act.
So I think that there is no legal concern.
The U.S. treats this as a binding international
commitment, as well as, you know,
an active piece of U.S. law which we will respect,
because the President has a duty to take care that the laws be
faithfully executed.
But the fact that you asked the question or that people asked
you the question shows, again, that, you know,
the great thing about Koreans is they're never quite sure that
the good thing that happened to them is really that good.
This is what keeps us always questing for more, right?
But sometimes I think you need to say, step back,
don't let your aspirations overwhelm your fears.
Esther Lee: Can you get mics to whoever is raising a hand, please?
And please keep your questions short so we can get as many
questions in as possible.
Kathy Moon: Hi, my name is Kathy Moon, I teach political science at
Wellesley College, so from one professor to another,
it's nice to be here.
There are other professors in the audience here.
My questions are for both of you,
you can divide your labor whichever way you want.
One is I guess a consultational question.
There are, as many of us in this room know,
we get stuck between Korea and the United States in many ways.
Many Americans sometimes think we're not American enough,
Koreans think we're not Korean enough.
At the same time we serve as mediators and bridges,
and there is, there are issues out in Korea where they could
bubble up into legal suits against the United States.
And I am -- this is a genuine question regarding specific
issues right now that I know about,
and it's something that I've been struggling with.
What are the ways short of lawsuits that Koreans with
specific grievances against the United States Government for
historical reasons or other reasons can take some action or
try to find some way of getting America's ears?
That's one question.
Another one's regarding North Korean human rights.
These are short questions, but they're distant questions.
North Korean human rights very recently, Professor --
Professor, my God, far from it.
President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea stated that the human
rights issue in North Korea should be, if not as important,
maybe more important than the nuclear issue.
So I'd like to know what the State Department's take,
what the White House's take might be on that,
how you would interpret it and respond.
And if you have time, if you could consider --
because these are some things that academics think about --
why is it that in the United States the human rights debate
is significantly dominated by conservatives when we know that
liberals and conservatives both care,
but the public debate is something that is very much
dominated by one group and how do we even this out?
Esther Lee: Thank you.
Harold Koh: Well, when I was Assistant Secretary for Human Rights I
would go to Asia and I would sit across from Asian interlocutors
who would tell me Asians don't believe in human rights.
And I would say, look at my face.
I don't think so.
Now, they didn't ask me whether I was a Democrat or
a Republican.
I'm a Democrat, but I don't think that any party has a
monopoly on the human rights concern.
Obviously, I mean, our relationship with North Korea
has many dimensions, and the nuclear issue is a human rights
issue as well.
So I think in a way it's a kind of a shell game as to how we're
addressing this.
And on the question of lawsuits, you know, obviously we're,
we live in a free country, and in Korea citizens do as well,
and there are ways to air your grievances.
But usually, and I'm a law dean and professor,
a lawsuit means a breakdown of communication,
leaving you the only option of filing suit.
And, you know, we have many ways now,
many channels and connections between the U.S. and Korea,
people to people, government to government,
which allow issues and concerns to be raised through these other
mechanisms of dialogue.
So I don't think that, if I were being asked to advise Koreans
and Korean Americans I would say have you exhausted these other
angles which might be at the end more productive in terms of
achieving the outcomes you wish.
Syd Seiler: You know, in his speech before HUFS back in March,
President Obama called on the leaders of North Korea to choose
the dignity and welfare of the North Korean people over the
pursuit of nuclear weapons.
And it speaks to kind of the inherent logic of kind of the
holistic view of the North Korean system that would say a
country that would pursue nuclear weapons at great
expense, great isolation to its people and put its people
through this also would have the same types of human rights
standards that we see there.
So there is a logical connection between the two issues.
You know, we take human rights in North Korea very seriously.
We have a special envoy, Robert King at the State Department,
who focuses solely on this issue,
who was the first Human Rights Envoy to visit Pyongyang back in
May 2011.
So we also, in spite of the fact that the headline grabber is
always the six-party talks, nuclear tests and missile
launches, we have never lost site of the human rights issue
as being important in North Korea.
Esther Lee: Okay, so in the interest of time there's a lot of questions,
please keep your question to one question.
I'm going take two questions and you can answer either
or neither.
Jay Koh is a Chief Investment Officer at OPIC.
Harold Koh: No relation.
Jay Koh: No relation.
Esther Lee: No relation.
Jay Koh: I just want you to take a look forward.
I mean, you've seen the kind of arc of history and the
participation both in U.S.-Korea relationships and the evolution
of that and the role, increasing role and participation of
Asian-Americans and Korean-Americans in government
in the United States.
So if you fast forward ten years,
what does that world look like in terms of both of those
issues, U.S.-Korea relations and participation of
Korean-Americans in government, and how do we get there?
Esther Lee: Okay, and then one more question and then let's try to answer
them together, if possible.
Jihyun Kim: Hi, my name is Jihyun Kim from Good Friends USA.
I want to ask a question about humanitarian aid to North Korea.
I would like to bring our attention to the North Korean
people who are struggling right now due to the serious food
shortage, and I would like to ask you what's the
Administration's standpoint towards the humanitarian aid
aside from political issues and what's your take on the opinion
that if we provide humanitarian aid,
like take initiative to provide humanitarian aid first,
to break this cycle and stalemate situation,
start to contribute to like not making this nuclear situation
worse at least.
Thank you.
Harold Koh: Well, go ahead on the --
Syd Seiler: No, go ahead.
Harold Koh: Okay, well --
You know, the United States has no disagreements with the North
Korean people.
Nor does the U.S. -- the U.S. wants the government to satisfy
the needs of its own people.
And, you know, at the first level,
humanitarian assistance is a critical element of this and we
provide this to many, many countries in the world.
But obviously, nutritional assistance is one of the most
basic things that a government can ensure to its people,
and if it's not providing that, the broader set of political
questions have to be addressed at a
government-to-government level.
With regard to Jay's question, I think Korean-American
participation in American political life will
obviously grow.
I'm looking at Mark Kim [phonetic] here.
I remember when I ran for President of my seventh grade
class and was defeated, my father said to me,
"In this country, Harold, our future is in
"appointive politics."
Esther Lee: Say it ain't so.
We have Sam here, another former elected official.
Harold Koh: Which is what led me to my current path.
But the fact of the matter is that I think this has changed,
and that Korean Americans and Asian Americans writ large not
only have a constituency, but also speak for certain values
which are, you know, much broader, clearly.
Just take two, you know, education.
No one could care more about education than Asian Americans
or Korean Americans.
The truth of it is that many Korean Americans provide home
education to the point where the education that students are
receiving through the public system is much less important.
But I do think that the focus on education --
and the other is the treatment of the elderly.
This is obviously a central concern to every single
one of us.
Our own parents and others of the senior generation,
in many of our cases the people who made it possible for us to
live in this country.
So I think to speak to these particular issues which are of
interest to all Americans, but from the Korean American
perspective is extremely powerful.
Syd Seiler: And I would just interestingly add to that as kind of like an
outside observer, having spent the last 30 years in language
and area studies, related jobs in the intelligence community,
in the Department of Defense and State Department,
the growth that Harold mentioned earlier in the last decade in
the number of Korean Americans entering the civil service and
starting to make an impact has been phenomenal.
I still remember when the first Korean American naturalized was
able to get a security clearance in the early 1980s,
and that was a marked, that was a pivotal point in the
employment and the wise use of Korean Americans,
Asian Americans across the board for their cultural language,
as well as, of course, their own specialized expertise,
political science, economists, international
relations specialists.
So the impact, Sun Kim [phonetic] is kind of like the
first wave of what we will see, a large number of young 20 and
30-year-old just outstanding professionals at the State
Department and CIA and Defense Department.
So it's very promising.
Esther Lee: Great.
One question there, one question there, quickly, please.
Audience Member: Yes.
My name is Nancy Kwon Johnson [phonetic],
and I'm an Associate Professor of International Relations.
As the daughter of a Korean mother born in
Changwon [phonetic], the last time I was in North Korea was in
October of 2008 with a group called Network for Korean
American Leaders under the direction of
Dr. Chan Lee [phonetic].
My question is with respect to how the Obama Administration
envisions using Joseph Nye's hard,
soft or smart power as well as e-diplomacy vis-a-vis
North Korea.
Thank you.
Esther Lee: And then one more question there.
Audience Member: I'm Don Guan Nee [phonetic], I'm working for the U.S. Committee
For Human Rights in North Korea.
I'm a huge fan of the head of the office where you work now,
and the most fundamental human right is the right to life,
and I wonder how the U.S. government,
you are starting now to link the food aid to the nuclear weapons
of North Korea, although there are many ways to prevent the
food aid from being diverted.
Thank you.
Harold Koh: So maybe I can fold these questions together.
To the extent to which hard power meant, you know,
cooperation on the military side,
I think what we've been discussing here is a much,
much thicker and deeper network in which the two countries look
to them, to each other as sources of common values.
And that soft power, Joe Nye's concept,
is just the recognition that when you have multiple channels
of influence and communication, you don't need to use crude
methods of communication, namely threats,
as a way of communicating.
Now there's a special problem, which is the fact that virtually
none of the people of North Korea have access to
the Internet.
I was struck, Kim Jong-il when I was there in December 2007 had
told us with pride that he had three computers and spent a huge
amount of time communicating with, you know,
watching the Internet.
But if you go back to your room and turn on the television,
they're running replays of 1950 movies about
Kim Il-fong, [phonetic], which I think people had just stopped
watching because they were so obviously irrelevant to what was
going on.
So I do think there are ways to seek --
more people-to-people penetration is critical.
I think the more that people in North Korea know what's actually
going on in the outside world and vice versa,
the better off we are.
Syd Seiler: No, I agree, and I think everybody's well aware of the
stories of the DVDs and thumb drives smuggling in South Korean
dramas and other information from the outside.
So it's been -- it's not a readily apparent shift,
there is not an Internet, you know,
desktop computer on every college student's desk like
there is in the Republic of Korea,
but information penetration is spreading in the North, and,
you know, we dedicate ourselves, $3 million in grant money to
NGOs for the purpose of increasing information access,
and the amount of information that flows into North Korea.
And, you know, our Administration has not opposed
people-to-people exchanges, and we were very, you know,
forward leaning in our putting on the table packages to include
the nutritional assistance that reflects President Obama's own
articulated concern for the welfare of the
North Korean people.
And as we pursue denuclearization,
it is not a zero-sum trade-off between doing things to improve
information access, to send messages to the North Korean
people that we care about them, to address the needs of the
North Korean people to the degree to which the regime fails
to meet their needs and the regime acts to prevent us from
meeting those needs.
It's not a zero-sum trade-off.
Esther Lee: Thank you so much for your time and for your insightful
comments, and your humor.
We look forward to the day when we have a Korean-American
President, and a Korean American Supreme Court Justice.
Thank you.
Tina Yoon: Hi, everybody.
Just I think all of us can agree that this was just an
outstanding program, and it's great to see friends from far
and wide come to the White House today.
I'd like us to all just thank the White House Office of Public
Engagement for making today possible.
And I realize I forgot to introduce myself,
so my name is Tina Yoon, and I've been working with the
Council of Korean Americans as the Executive Director for about
the past year.
This is our first public event in which we --
so for the last year we've been working on setting things up
with the organization, but we're really excited about today.
And just to share a quick story with you,
we were on a planning call trying to look through the
people who had registered, and we oversubscribed and were
getting pretty stressed, and Esther Lee, who, you know,
you just saw here, she just said, "Well,
of course it's oversubscribed because this is a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
And everybody laughed, yeah, we agree, but then I actually said,
"Well, this better not be the only time in my life that we
have an event like this at the White House,
" and I truly mean that.
I think she, you know, her statement underscored the fact
that today really is special, and I agree with her
wholeheartedly on that, but I see today as just being the
beginning of a long lifetime relationship that continues past
this generation.
And we want to be, remain in communication and dialogue with
the White House and the Administration,
regardless of who the President is.
So we started here, you know, today with the Obama
Administration, but we'll see what happens in November,
and we just want to be able to continue this through the years.
And CKA wants to help facilitate this dialogue,
but of course we can't do this alone.
It requires all to be in partnership together.
And so it's really important that all of you took time out of
your busy schedules to come here today,
and so we're really grateful.
And I think this also brings me to my last point,
which is that we're going to go to the Indian Treaty Room and
have a beautiful lunch, and it's going to be Korean food.
I hope you're all excited about that.
There's no kimchi because we didn't want to, like,
scare the office workers here with the smell.
But I think you'll find some of your favorites there.
But what I really wanted to do was encourage all of you to take
advantage of this special opportunity we have, not only,
you know, we already had this part with the White House,
but that you are here gathered together from around
the country.
You have this special opportunity to get to know
one another.
You are all leaders within your communities,
and you may not have had a chance to meet one
another before.
So really make the most of this, of the next hour and a half that
we have together.
And the Office of Public Engagement has asked everybody
to fill out this survey, so not only are we to try to get to
know one another, but also we'd like to keep the dialogue open
with the Office of Public Engagement.
They are the key to our link to the federal government here.
And so there will be interns that will go around and collect
your completed survey, so we really appreciate you taking the
time to do that.
And the way to get to the Indian Treaty Room is through this door
over here on your left.
Don't go back through there, go this way.
Oh, we're not ready yet?
Okay, why don't we start the networking here?
It's actually good, because now you have time to fill out
the survey.
So about how much time do you think?
Okay, so about ten minutes.
And then, okay.
So thank you, everyone, for coming.