Jay Kim

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Chang Joon "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 by Bill Lowery
Succeeded by Gary Miller
Personal details
Born (1939-03-27) March 27, 1939 (age 77)
Seoul, South Korea
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) June Kim (divorced)
Jennifer Ahn
Alma mater University of Southern California (B.A., M.S.)
Hanyang University (Ph.D.)
Profession Civil engineer

Chang Joon "Jay" Kim (Korean: 김창준, Hanja: 金昌準) (born March 27, 1939) is a 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.

Early life, education, and business career[edit]

Kim was born in Seoul, South 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 career[edit]

Local politics[edit]

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] and the first Korean to be elected to a national political office outside Korea.[5]

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.[6]


Kim came under scrutiny for campaign donations, eventually pleading guilty to accepting $230,000 in illegal donations, including one-third of all donations to his 1992 campaign. At the time, it was a record for campaign violations.[7] [8]

He kept his seat but lost the primary election in 1998 to Gary Miller, with whom he had once served on the Diamond Bar City Council. Miller 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 42nd Congressional District including Diamond Bar was merged with the 40th Congressional District of Ed Royce.

Recent activities[edit]

In recent years, Kim has focused on improving relations and business opportunities between the U.S. and Korea. He has served as chairman of The Washington Korean-American Forum think tank since 2007.[9] 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, Kim was appointed to the National Economic Advisory Council to help small business seek opportunities in the global market.[10] 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."[11]

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


  1. ^ "Jay Kim Voting Record". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b WKAF bio. "Jay Kim biography". The Washington Korean-American Forum. 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. ^ Zwetsloot, J. (2008-12-22). "Melissa Lee - first Korean member in New Zealand's parliament". Korean Culture and Information Service. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  6. ^ "OnPolitics District 42". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Congress: America's Criminal Class - Part III". Capitol Hill Blue. 1999-08-18. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "WKAF Committee Profiles - Jay Kim". The Washington Korean-American Forum. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  10. ^ "National Economic Advisory Council" Korea Times. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  11. ^ "A fresh and fruitful beginning for free trade". Forbes. Retrieved 21 August 2013.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Lowery
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 41st congressional district

Succeeded by
Gary Miller