Canada’s Korean community need to be more involved, diplomat says

April 16, 2017

By Chuck Chiang, Vancouver Sun |

South Korea’s top diplomat in B.C. has a message for Korean-Canadians in Western Canada: Get involved in your local community, lest Korean contributions to Canada be overlooked.

Gunn Kim, consul general of South Korea in Vancouver since arriving last year, said establishing community ties at the most basic level of Canadian society is critical the future Canada’s relationship with Korea, culturally and economically.

To that end, Kim said South Korea’s diplomatic mission in Vancouver will embark on a year-long effort to get Korean-Canadians involved in activities like community volunteering and participation in civic discussions.

“I’ve met many leaders in Canada, and what I’ve found is that they have very high expectations for the Korean community to play a role” in mainstream society, Kim said. “The Korean community is doing a lot, even if it is not well-known, but we need to be doing so in a more earnest and active way.”

Part of the issue is the splintering of Korean-Canadian groups, usually along religious or generational lines. One example has been the Korean Society of B.C., where a series of lawsuits between groups contending for leadership has received attention from the English-language media.

Many in the community has also lamented the fact that despite a significant Metro-Vancouver population of as much as 70,000, Korean-Canadians have largely remained in the background in political representation. The first MLA of Korean descent — Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Jane Shin of the NDP — was only elected in 2013 and is one of only two Korean-Canadians serving as elected provincial legislators in Canada. Shin is not seeking re-election in the May 9 election.

Kim said his office has already organized events to get people across the Korean-Canadian community — including those from first- and second-generation groups — to talk about putting on a “united front” to increase visibility. Among the ideas is a single Korean-Canadian entry in this summer’s Canada Day parade.

“(Canadians) want the Korean community to play its share of the role actively in Canada’s multicultural society,” Kim said. “They want the Korean-Canadian community here to be more active in local affairs and even the political process. … I don’t know if it’s a challenge or not, because we are just starting. But hopefully I can tell you in a year’s

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