Young Kim

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Young Kim
Young Kim 117th U.S Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 39th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2021
Preceded byGil Cisneros
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 65th district
In office
December 1, 2014 – November 30, 2016
Preceded bySharon Quirk-Silva
Succeeded bySharon Quirk-Silva
Personal details
Choe Young-oak

(1962-10-18) October 18, 1962 (age 58)
Incheon, Gyeonggi, South Korea
Political partyRepublican
Charles Kim
(m. 1986)
ResidenceLa Habra, California, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Southern California (BBA)
WebsiteHouse website
Korean name
(김) 최영옥[1]
(金) 崔映玉[2]
Revised Romanization(Gim) Choe Yeong-ok
McCune–Reischauer(Kim) Ch'oe Yŏng'ok

Young Oak Kim (née Choe, Korean: 최영옥; born October 18, 1962) is a Korean-born American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for California's 39th congressional district. A member of the Republican Party, her district includes northern parts of Orange County. In the 2020 United States House of Representatives elections, Kim, along with Michelle Park Steel (R-CA) and Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), became one of the first three Korean-American women ever elected to the United States Congress. Kim and Steel are also the first Korean-Americans elected to Congress from California since Jay Kim.

Kim previously served as the California State Assemblywoman for the 65th district from 2014 to 2016, defeating the incumbent Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva in 2014. Kim went on to lose the seat in a rematch with Quirk-Silva in 2016. Kim was the first Korean-American Republican woman elected to the California State Legislature.[3]

In 2018, Kim was the Republican Party candidate in California's 39th congressional district; she was defeated by Democrat Gil Cisneros in the general election. In 2020, Kim and Cisneros faced off again, and Kim defeated Cisneros.[4] Along with Michelle Steel and David Valadao, Kim became one of the first Republican congressional candidates to unseat an incumbent House Democrat in California since 1994.

Early life and education[edit]

Kim was born in 1962 in Incheon, South Korea,[5] and spent her childhood in Seoul. She and her family left South Korea in 1975, living first in Guam,[5] where she finished junior high school, and then Hawaii, where she attended high school.[6]

She has a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.[7]


Private sector[edit]

After graduating from USC, Kim worked as a financial analyst for First Interstate Bank and then as a controller for JK Sportswear Manufacturing.[3] Kim also started her own business in the clothing industry.[6]

Kim worked for state senator Ed Royce[5] after her husband met Royce while promoting a nonprofit organization, the Korean American Coalition.[3] After Royce was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Kim worked for a total of 21 years as the congressman's community liaison and director of Asian affairs.[6] During much of that time she also appeared regularly on her own television show, "LA Seoul with Young Kim", and her radio show, "Radio Seoul", on which she discussed political issues affecting Korean Americans.[3]

California State Assembly[edit]

Kim was elected to the Assembly in 2014, defeating Democratic Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva. In 2016, in turn, Quirk-Silva defeated Kim.[8]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Committee on Transportation
  • Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, Vice Chair
  • Committee on Education
  • Committee on Budget
    • Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance
  • Committee on Banking and Finance

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In 2017, Kim announced she would be running for the Orange County Board of Supervisors, a nonpartisan office, in the 4th district, which includes the cities of Fullerton, Placentia, La Habra, and Brea, plus portions of Anaheim and Buena Park.[9] However, in January 2018, immediately after Royce announced his retirement, Kim publicly declared that she would instead enter the race to succeed Royce as the representative for California's 39th congressional district.[10] Royce endorsed Kim the day after announcing his retirement.[6] Kim received the most votes in the primary election among a crowded field of 17 candidates, allowing her to advance to the general election along with the Democratic candidate Gil Cisneros.

Polls showed a tight race throughout the campaign, and FiveThirtyEight called the race a toss-up.[11] Early results on the night of the election showed Kim holding a 52.5%-47.5% lead,[12][13] but Kim ultimately lost the election to Cisneros, who received 51.6% of the vote to Kim's 48.4% after mail-in ballots were counted.[14] She conceded on November 18.[15]

Young Kim campaigning in 2019

In April 2019, Kim announced her candidacy to run again for the 39th district seat. Immediately after her announcement, top party officials rallied behind Kim, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.[16] In March 2020, Kim received 48.3% of the vote compared to Cisneros' 46.9%, and thus, both advanced out of the top-two primary for an official rematch.

Kim proved to be one of the top House fund-raising challengers across the nation, outraising Cisneros $6.16 million to $4.36 million.[17][18] However, unlike the previous cycle, most election observers rated the race as "Lean Democrat", with FiveThirtyEight predicting Kim had a 26 out of a 100 chance of winning.[19]

At the end of election night, Kim had a small lead over a thousand votes. As mail-in ballots were counted, Kim's lead continued to grow, a reversal from the trend that heavily favored Democrats in the previous election. The Associated Press projected Cisneros's defeat on November 13. She, along with Michelle Steel and Marilyn Strickland, became the first Korean-American women elected to Congress.[20]

Kim has filed paperwork to run for reelection in 2022.[21]


On January 6, 2021, Kim voted to certify Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, declining to support Republican-led efforts to contest the election results.[22]

On January 13, 2021, Kim voted against the second impeachment of Donald Trump.[23] She said she supported censuring Trump but not impeaching him.[24]

On February 4, 2021, Kim joined 10 other Republican House members voting with all voting Democrats to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her House Education and Labor Committee, and House Budget Committee assignments in response to controversial political statements she had made.[25]

On February 25, 2021, Kim voted against the Equality Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to explicitly include new protections.[26] In a subsequent statement, Kim stated that she believed that all people should be treated with respect and be given equal opportunities, but justified her vote on the grounds that the current bill "undermines Americans’ religious freedoms, limits protections for people of faith and opens the door to ending the decades-long bipartisan Hyde Amendment."[27]

On February 27, 2021, Kim joined with all Republicans to vote against the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, citing a lack of bipartisanship and criticizing the bill for only having 9 percent of the funding directly going towards combating COVID-19 with most of the aid not spent until 2022.[28]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

In 2016, Kim's assembly re-election platform included opposing changes to Proposition 13, which limits property taxes.[32]

Kim's congressional platform included opposition to the Affordable Care Act, support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, support for "the anti-sanctuary city stance taken by the County Board of Supervisors"[33] and support for chain migration.[34][35][36] NBC News reported that the issues important to Kim included "creating jobs and keeping taxes low", "beef[ing] up education funding in science, technology, engineering and math", and reforming the immigration system to "ensure those brought to the U.S. 'as children without legal documentation are treated fairly and with compassion.'"[6] She supports student loan forgiveness if the borrower is on the verge of bankruptcy.[34] Kim favors reduced regulations and increased trade.[35] She is a fiscal conservative.[37]

In June 2020, following the widespread popularity of calls to "defund the police" in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, Kim called these demands "irresponsible" and said that defunding law enforcement would make communities more vulnerable. Kim called for increased accountability and transparency in law enforcement, as well as an increase in training and reevaluation of guidelines to decrease the use of unnecessary force. Kim also argued that the first steps in making progress would require "treating each other with respect regardless of our race or occupation and having honest conversations without accusations or judgement."[38]

In June 2020, Kim criticized President Trump for referring to COVID-19 as "Kung Flu" and received backlash from those within her own party.[39][40]

LGBT rights[edit]

In 2014, Kim opposed a California law "requiring schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice and participate in sports by their gender identity rather than their anatomical gender." During an Orange County Register interview, Kim said she opposed the law over concerns that new school facilities could need to be constructed, additional spending could be required, students could change their identity "on a whim", and that male-to-female transgender students would have an unfair advantage in sports. She has said transgender individuals "deserve to be respected" but that she does not believe that LGBT individuals were born with their identities or orientations.[41]

Kim opposed same-sex marriage in 2014,[42] but by 2015, she, along with 61 other state assembly members, coauthored a resolution in the Assembly that established June as Pride Month and recognized same-sex marriage.[43] When questioned about this, Kim responded it was to "recognize individuals that are making contributions to our community [including] the LGBTQ community." In 2016, Kim supported an assembly bill that required single-use restrooms to be gender-neutral.[44][better source needed]

Korean affairs[edit]

Kim has expressed her concerns on the issue of divided families on the Korean Peninsula, especially Korean Americans with relatives living in North Korea. In February 2021, she joined Grace Meng to co-sponsor the bill H.R.826 which would require the Secretary of State and the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korea Human Rights to prioritize helping reunite divided Korean American families.[45][46]

Young Kim also worked on the comfort woman issue from the days of Korea under Japanese rule and has expressed her belief that victims of human trafficking and slavery should be supported. During her tenure as California assemblywoman, she attended a protest against Japan's war crimes during WWII at Pershing Square, Los Angeles during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the US in May 2015. During that gathering, she spoke about the comfort woman issue and demanded that the Japanese government issue an apology.[47] In February 2021, she criticized the Harvard Law School professor John Mark Ramseyer's claims that those women are "willing sex workers" and urged him to apologize.[48]

Personal life[edit]

Kim is married to Charles Kim,[49] a non-profit administrator and philanthropist. Kim and her husband live in La Habra, California,[50] and previously lived in Fullerton during her 2018 campaign. They have four children.[51] Kim is Christian.[5]

Electoral history[edit]

2014 California State Assembly election[edit]

California's 65th State Assembly district election, 2014
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Young Kim 21,593 54.7
Democratic Sharon Quirk-Silva (incumbent) 17,896 45.3
Total votes 39,489 100.0
General election
Republican Young Kim 42,376 54.6
Democratic Sharon Quirk-Silva (incumbent) 35,204 45.4
Total votes 77,580 100.0
Republican gain from Democratic

2016 California State Assembly election[edit]

California's 65th State Assembly district election, 2016
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sharon Quirk-Silva 42,890 54.3
Republican Young Kim (incumbent) 36,028 45.7
Total votes 78,918 100.0
General election
Democratic Sharon Quirk-Silva 69,806 52.5
Republican Young Kim (incumbent) 63,119 47.5
Total votes 132,925 100
Democratic gain from Republican

2018 California's 39th congressional district election[edit]

California's 39th congressional district election, 2018
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Young Kim 30,019 21.2
Democratic Gil Cisneros 27,469 19.4
Republican Phil Liberatore 20,257 14.3
Democratic Andy Thorburn 12,990 9.2
Republican Shawn Nelson 9,750 6.9
Republican Bob Huff 8,699 6.2
Democratic Sam Jammal 7,613 5.4
Democratic Mai-Khanh Tran 7,430 5.3
Democratic Herbert H. Lee 5,988 4.2
Republican Steven C. Vargas 4,144 2.9
Democratic Suzi Park Leggett 2,058 1.5
Republican John J. Cullum 1,747 1.2
No party preference Karen Lee Schatzle 903 0.6
No party preference Steve Cox 856 0.6
Republican Andrew Sarega 823 0.6
American Independent Sophia J. Alexander 523 0.4
American Independent Ted Alemayhu 176 0.1
Total votes 141,445 100.0
General election
Democratic Gil Cisneros 126,002 51.6
Republican Young Kim 118,391 48.4
Total votes 229,860 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican

2020 California's 39th congressional district election[edit]

California's 39th congressional district primary election, 2020
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Young Kim 83,782 48.4
Democratic Gil Cisneros (incumbent) 81,133 46.8
Independent Steve Cox 8,264 4.8
Total votes 173,179 100.0
General election
Republican Young Kim 172,253 50.6
Democratic Gil Cisneros (incumbent) 168,108 49.4
Total votes 316,047 100.0
Republican gain from Democratic

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kim Jong-won (July 20, 2015). "한인 여성 첫 하원의원 '영 김' 20일 방한". AsiaToday (in Korean). Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  2. ^ 김영옥 (金映玉) 미국 상원 하원 최초의 한국인 여성. Global Economic News (in Korean). April 22, 2018. Archived from the original on March 24, 2021. Retrieved November 8, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d White, Jeremy B. "Assemblywoman Young Kim recalls parents' sacrifice to move to U.S." The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Staggs, Brooke (November 13, 2020). "Republican challenger Young Kim unseats Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros in 39th District". The Orange County Register. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d Doyle, Josh (November 10, 2018). "Young Kim could win seat in US congress but not all Koreans are happy". South China Morning Post. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e Fuchs, Chris. "Young Kim's Congressional campaign is a run two decades in the making". NBC. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  7. ^ Samuel Mountjoy (December 14, 2014). "Assemblywoman Young Kim takes oath of office at CSUF". The Daily Titan. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  8. ^ Christine Mai-Duc (November 17, 2016). "Assemblywoman Young Kim concedes in Orange County race against Sharon Quirk-Silva". LA Times. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "Former assemblywoman Young Kim to run for Orange County supervisor in 2018 – Orange County Register". Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  10. ^ TODAY, ASIA (January 11, 2018). "Former Korean-American Assemblywoman Enters Race for US Congress". Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  11. ^ California Republican Young Kim aims to become 1st Korean-American woman elected to Congress (ABC News)
  12. ^ Election 2018: Republican Young Kim poised to be first Korean-American woman in Congress (Los Angeles Daily News)
  13. ^ "Election 2020 :: California Secretary of State".
  14. ^ ABC7 com staff (November 18, 2018). "Democrat Gil Cisneros flips Orange County's 39th district in win over GOP's Young Kim". ABC7 Los Angeles.
  15. ^ Custodio, Spencer (November 18, 2018). "Republican Young Kim Concedes to Democrat Gil Cisneros: All 7 OC Congressional Seats Blue". Voice of OC.
  16. ^ Medina, Jennifer (October 3, 2019). "Can Young Kim Help Turn Orange County Red Again? (Published 2019)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  17. ^ Denkmann, Libby. Four Lessons From The Southern California House Seats Republicans Reclaimed In 2020, KPCC, 89.3 FM, Southern California Public Radio, Pasadena, California, December 3, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  18. ^ A 501tax-exempt, The Center for Responsive Politics; NW, charitable organization 1300 L. St; Washington, Suite 200; info, DC 20005 telelphone857-0044. "California District 39 2020 Race". OpenSecrets. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  19. ^ Silver, Nate (August 12, 2020). "2020 House Forecast". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  20. ^ "Making history: Three Korean American women, two representing California, win seats in Congress". Los Angeles Times. November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  21. ^ Staggs, Brooke (February 3, 2021). "Who's already running for Congress in Orange County in 2022?". Orange County Register. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  22. ^ Pamer, Melissa (January 7, 2021). "How California GOP members of Congress voted on the failed challenge to Biden's election victory". KTLA. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  23. ^ Harmonson, Todd. "How did L.A. County members of Congress vote on President Trump's impeachment?". Los Angeles Daily News.
  24. ^ Rogers, Alex (January 13, 2021). "GOP Rep. Young Kim says she supports censure, but not impeachment". CNN. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  25. ^ Clare Foran, Daniella Diaz and Annie Grayer. "House votes to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from committee assignments". CNN. CNN. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  26. ^ "Here's every Republican who voted against the Equality Act". Metro Weekly. February 25, 2021.
  27. ^ Kim, Young (February 25, 2021). "Rep. Young Kim Statement on Equality Act" (Press release). Washington, DC.
  28. ^ Kim, Young (February 27, 2021). "Rep. Young Kim Statement on COVID-19 Relief" (Press release). Washington, DC.
  29. ^ "Committees and Caucuses | Representative Young Kim". Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  30. ^ "Featured Members". Problem Solvers Caucus. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  31. ^ "MEMBERS". RMSP. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  32. ^ "Young Kim for Assembly District 65". Orange County Register. October 23, 2016. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  33. ^ Rands, Jane (April 13, 2018). "Meet Some Candidates Running to Replace Congressman Ed Royce". Fullerton Observer. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  34. ^ a b "The Craziest Race in the House". November 3, 2018.
  35. ^ a b "39th District: Young Kim and Gil Cisneros". LA Times.
  36. ^ Meg Cunningham (November 1, 2018). "California Republican Young Kim aims to become 1st Korean-American woman elected to Congress".
  37. ^ Christopher Palmeri (July 11, 2018). "Battle for House Control Runs Through California's Orange County". Bloomberg.
  38. ^ Young Kim (June 17, 2020). "Change is necessary, defunding the police is not: Young Kim". Orange County Register.
  39. ^ "GOP candidate Young Kim condemns Trump's 'kung flu' comment, with race issues dividing party". Orange County Register. June 23, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  40. ^ "What It's Like For Asian American Candidates During A Pandemic Marked By Racism". Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  41. ^ "Schools dispute Assembly candidate's transgender-law argument". Orange County Register. October 2, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  42. ^ "Schools dispute Assembly candidate's transgender-law argument". Orange County Register. October 2, 2014. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  43. ^ "Bill Text - HR-24". Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  44. ^ "Bill Text - AB-1732 Single-user restrooms". Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  45. ^ "Revived bill could help Korean Americans reunite with North Korean relatives for first time since the war". The Orange County Register. February 21, 2021.
  46. ^ "Rep. Young Kim Pushes to Reunite Korean Americans with Family Members in North Korea". Representative Young Kim. February 8, 2021.
  47. ^ ""아베는 사과하라" 태극기와 성조기, 오성홍기로 가득찬 LA다운타운" (in Korean). JoongAng Ilbo. May 3, 2015.
  48. ^ "US Rep. Young Kim Criticizes Harvard Professor's 'Comfort Women' Claim". KBS World Radio. February 12, 2021.
  49. ^ Emerson, Sandra (November 6, 2018). "Election 2018: Republican Young Kim poised to be first Korean-American woman in Congress". Orange County Register. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  50. ^ Staggs, Brooke (December 20, 2020). "Most Influential: Young Kim and Michelle Steel pave way for Asian American women in Congress". The Orange County Registrar.
  51. ^ Maiduc, Christine (October 5, 2018). "Meet Young Kim, an Asian American immigrant woman running for Congress under Trump's Republican Party". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 21, 2020.

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Sharon Quirk-Silva
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 65th district

Succeeded by
Sharon Quirk-Silva
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gil Cisneros
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 39th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kai Kahele
United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Jake LaTurner