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Chang Joon "Jay" Kim (Korean김창준; Hanja金昌準; born March 27, 1939) is a Korean American politician and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California and ambassador for Korean-American relations. He was the first Korean American to be elected to the United States Congress.

Jay Kim
Jay Kim.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 41st district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1999
Preceded byBill Lowery
Succeeded byGary Miller
Personal details
Chang Joon Kim

(1939-03-27) March 27, 1939 (age 80)
Seoul, Japanese Korea (now Seoul, South Korea)
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)June Kim (Divorced)
Jennifer Ahn
EducationUniversity of Southern California (BS, MS)
Hanyang University (PhD)

Early life, education, and business careerEdit

Kim was born in Seoul, Japanese Korea. During the Korean War, his home was destroyed. He immigrated to the United States in 1961, where he graduated from the University of Southern California, earning bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering. He later earned a doctorate in political science from Hanyang University. [1]

In 1976, Kim started JAYKIM Engineers, a firm that specializes in designing highways and water reclamation projects. He built the business into a firm of 130 employees, with offices in three western states. Kim is an award-winning engineer,[2] registered in five western states. JAYKIM Engineers, was recognized as one of the top 500 design firms in the country.[3]

Political careerEdit

Local politicsEdit

Kim was elected to the city council of Diamond Bar, a newly incorporated suburb of Los Angeles, in 1990 and was elected mayor the following year.

U.S. House of Representatives (1993-1999)Edit

Kim was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 as a Republican from the newly created 41st District, making him the first Korean American elected to the United States Congress.[4]

After being defeated for renomination in 1998, Kim sought to win election in the 42nd District in 2000. He was defeated in the primary by Elia Pirozzi, who in turn was defeated by incumbent Joe Baca.[5]


Kim came under scrutiny for campaign donations, eventually pleading guilty to accepting $230,000 in illegal donations, which amounted to one-third of all donations to his 1992 campaign. At the time, it was a record for campaign violations.[6][7]

In 1998, he lost the primary election to Gary Miller, with whom he had once served on the Diamond Bar City Council. Miller also won the general election and held the seat until he was elected to the 31st Congressional District in 2012. Most of the northern part of the old 41st, later the 42nd Congressional District, including Diamond Bar was merged with the 40th Congressional District of Ed Royce.

Recent activitiesEdit

In recent years, Kim has focused on improving relations and business opportunities between the U.S. and South Korea. He has served as chairman of The Washington Korean-American Forum think tank since 2007.[8] As chairman of Kim Changjoon US-Korea Foundation, he uses his political and professional experience to help develop political leadership in South Korea. The Kim Changjoon Politics and Economy Academy in Korea educates and encourages small business owners to go abroad by providing global market skills and professional knowledge.

With the election of President Park Geun-hye in 2013, Kim was appointed to the National Economic Advisory Council to help small business seek opportunities in the global market.[9] Kim has stated that his " position in both the United States and Korea allows me to encourage economic development between our nations, and the new free-trade agreement lets companies… flourish in new markets.".[10] However, not unlike Kim's prior time in elected office, Park was also convicted on public corruption and influence peddling charges, and on 6 April 2018, Park was sentenced to 24 years in prison in South Korea.

Kim also regularly contributes articles to The Korea Times, JoongAng Ilbo, and Korea Economic Daily, and is the honorary Ambassador of Gyeonggi Province.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Jay Kim Voting Record". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b WKAF bio. "Jay Kim biography". The Washington Korean-American Forum. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  3. ^ Spiegel, Claire; Kang, K. Connie (1993-10-27). "The Fast, Rocky Rise of Jay Kim : As the first Asian immigrant elected to the Congress, his success was a cause of celebration and hope for millions of other Asian-Americans. Now, federal investigations have shaken his career". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  4. ^ Drummond Ayres Jr., B. (1998-04-28). "Political Briefing; To His Own Party, Persona Non Grata". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  5. ^ "OnPolitics District 42". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Congress: America's Criminal Class - Part III". Capitol Hill Blue. 1999-08-18. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "WKAF Committee Profiles - Jay Kim" Archived 2013-08-19 at the Wayback Machine. The Washington Korean-American Forum. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  9. ^ "National Economic Advisory Council" Korea Times. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  10. ^ "A fresh and fruitful beginning for free trade". Forbes. Retrieved 21 August 2013.

External linksEdit