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I’m Kim Jong-il, and I Approve This Candidate By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 24, 2009


John Choe lived through 9/11 in New York City and shortly thereafter became legislative director for a city councilman – but led protests against toppling the Taliban and still boasts of volunteering for an organization whose keynote speaker proclaimed two weeks after 9/11 “many of those who died [in the Twin Towers] were already targets of the daily violence of global capitalism.” He made two pilgrimages to Stalinist North Korea and a trip to Castro’s Cuba “to create new ways of building solidarity with the struggles of workers and people of color.” He denounced “American imperialism,” the U.S. “war” against the poor, and the torture and politically motivated murders of South Korea (but not the North). George Soros rewarded his Communist zeal with a grant to create a left-wing pressure group within New York’s Korean community – a group which Choe ran in lockstep with Ramsey Clark’s radical Workers World Party and its affiliates before joining an organization that includes “representatives” from North Korea. And now, he’d like your vote.

By all indications, Choe is the frontrunner for the 20th district’s seat on the New York City Council, being vacated by his former boss and college buddy John Liu. (Choe was Liu’s legislative director and later chief of staff.) In addition to Liu’s strong backing, Choe – the first viable Korean candidate in a largely Korean district – is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, the Queens Democratic Party, the powerful Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Local 237 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. And he hopes to keep all eyes focused on the future.

He has learned well from Barack Obama, whose name he often invokes. Like Obama, he had a nomadic childhood. The Democratic hopeful was born in 1970 in Korea, raised in Australia, and emigrated to the United States in the 1980s. Like Obama, he has learned to hide his true face. Mention Choe’s ongoing affiliation with North Korea, and he changes the issue faster than you can say “Jeremiah Wright.” He dismisses any discussion of his longstanding advocacy on behalf of Kim Jong-il’s regime as “crazy talk,” a “desperate attempt by opponents to distract the electorate from the real issues.” After all, “Working families care about how they’re going to support their families, provide health care and a good education to their children…That’s what I’m running on."

It’s clear why Choe would want his vitae shielded from prying eyes. The first clue to Choe’s radical views is his self-description as “a byproduct of U.S. imperialism.” Examining the organizations his CV boasts he served yields yet more. Among them:

[*] The Venceremos Brigades, a joint venture of Cuban intelligence and the KGB. A secret FBI report written in 1977 found its purpose was “the recruitment of individuals who are politically oriented and who someday may obtain a position, elective or appointive, somewhere in the U.S. Government, which would provide the Cuban Government with access to political, economic and military intelligence.” (Emphasis added.) Choe fits the bill today, as he did when the Brigades quoted him in a press release pledging his “solidarity” with los Cubanos. Choe said, “I am very much interested in learning about the Cuban Revolution and the way it can both inform my activism as a community organizer in New York City and also inspire me to create new ways of building solidarity with the struggles of workers and people of color here and abroad.” (The group’s itinerary that year included a “stop at the Che Guevara Memorial site in Santa Clara” en route to Havana.)

[*] Korea Exposure & Education Program (KEEP), which according to an older, unsanitized version of its history, organizes trips to North Korea to “counter negative and biased portrayals of the country in mainstream U.S. media.” Choe’s own organization, Nodutdol, founded with George Soros grant money, would soon do the same. Choe still serves on KEEP’s planning team.

[*] Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV), a radical group which brands the NYPD “perpetrator number-one” of “physical attacks on Asian immigrants.” The keynote speaker for CAAV’s 15th anniversary, on September 28, 2001, was Angela Yvonne Davis, a former Black Panther and current university lecturer. Davis told her audience, “The attack on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon does not annul the history of U.S. militarism…And it should not camouflage the fact that the U.S. significantly helped to create the conditions that led to the violence of September 11…The attack on September 11 has been represented as an attack against global capitalism (with the U.S. flag as its symbol). But we must consider that many of those who died were already targets of the daily violence of global capitalism.” (Emphasis added.) A year later, its publication the CAAV Voice would declaim, “the war on Iraq is a racist war.” Continuing Davis’ radical fervor, CAAV’s Youth Leadership Project offers Asian youth an “intensive 8 week summer program that engages the youth in basic organizing skills training; workshops of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, colonialism, and other systems of oppression (as well as the freedom movements to fight these oppressions).” Choe was still listed as a member of CAAAV as as of February.  

[*] Pacifica Radio, a network that eulogized Ho Chi Minh and remains an outpost of Marxists, racists, and crank anti-Semites. Choe’s CV says he was involved with its powerful affiliate WBAI 99.5 FM. 

Most of these activities have been scrubbed from Choe’s campaign bio. Yet Choe proudly lists himself the founder of Nodutdol (which translates, roughly, “stepping stone”), a far-Left Korean organization the South Korean consulate told the New York Times is controlled by Pyongyang.

So too is another group Choe belongs to: the Korea Truth Commission. The Workers World newspaper acknowledges, “The KTC includes representatives from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (socialist north Korea).” And the WWP should know; as DiscoverTheNetworks points out, KTC is a member of the International ANSWER steering committee, and was founded by Ramsey Clark's International Action Center, which is itself a front for the Workers World Party (WWP), a tiny Marxist splinter party that lionizes Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosovic, and Saddam Hussein.

Choe’s ties to North Korea run long. He first visited the North in 2000 – on his honeymoon! Eight years later, he made a return trip. He tried to minimize the importance of the trip, telling The Queens Tribune he and his new bride “spent a few days in North Korea to learn about the society.” He has emerged sounding very much like a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spokesman, insisting Pyongyang had the right to test “civilian” rockets. (He claimed he was unaware if the rockets North Korea kept firing over Japanese airspace were for civilian or military purposes.) Choe thundered that South Korea “restricted free speech and freedom of conscience, [and] allowed the authorities to detain, torture and sometimes kill their political opponents whether they were professors, poetry, [sic.] labor activists.” He generously offered, “If a similar system is in place in North Korea, I would also oppose it.” But thus far, his ire has been directed toward Seoul – and Washington. In 2005, Choe chaired a speech given by two South Koreans who claim they were injured in a “massacre” orchestrated by the South Korean government. One of them said their purpose was to insist the U.S. government “pay reparations to the victims.”

It was hardly Choe’s first less-than-sympathetic gesture toward the land of his emigration. On Febraruy 28, 2002 – just months after his new hometown fell victim to the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history – Choe staged a rally opposing toppling the Taliban. He told the WWP’s newspaper, Workers World, his new organization Noduldol had two goals: “to showcase the fact that many members of the Korean community in New York have been opposed to the use of military forces in Afghan,” [sic.] and to make “comparisons with the way the U.S. has acted with its allies in Korea and Palestine, dividing and occupying these two countries.” Not content to merely demean his own country on two fronts, Choe insisted: “Bush saying ‘Axis of Evil’ is not just something recent. It’s been U.S. strategy to demonize and delegitimize popular struggles around the world.” In one sentence he lambasted the United States and elevated Kim Jong-il’s gulag to a “popular struggle.” A year later, Choe would insist, “the U.S. is about to launch a war” against North Korea.

For such yeoman’s service, in 2003 Choe received a New York City Community Fellowship Program grant from George SorosOpen Society Institute to “Help local Korean immigrants and community members in Queens establish a community-based organization to promote social justice and human rights campaigns and initiatives.” The program, now operating under another name, “identified and supported social change agents who engaged passion, ingenuity, and dynamism,” ultimately financing 77 people over seven years (1998-2005). Soros’ website reveals, “The fellowship has been renamed the New York Social Justice Fellowship to reflect the programs on-going commitment of supporting new grassroots initiatives.” To most, Choe’s history of collusion with, or useful idiocy for, totalitarian dictatorships would be a disqualifying factor; for George Soros, it was icing on the cake.

The Soros grant was intended to do what so many left-wing “philanthropic” grants do: create a permanent infrastructure of radicalism. George Soros has used similar tactics to fund the “grassroots” rallies in favor of campaign finance reform in 2000 and socialized medicine this summer; others have done so to create the Open Borders Lobby. This tax-exempt cash goes toward radicalizing the target community and, more importantly, giving the Left cover among any given constituency (Koreans, Hispanics, women, etc.).

Choe’s new Soros-funded organization, Nodutdol, would become the radical face of New York’s Korean community. Even the New York Times admitted the Nodutdul website “There is plenty of praise for the former dictator Kim Il Sung…The site doesn't mention that North Korean citizens can reportedly be sent to the gulag for watching television. There is only a passing reference to the famine that killed an estimated 2.5 million North Koreans in the mid-1990's.” Nodutdol stepped up visits of Koreans in the United States to North and South Korea. One such visitor, Maggie Kim, described what she learned: “[N]o one I knew [in America] worked towards anything besides their own personal gain, whether it be wealth, fame, happiness, enlightenment. Yet here was an entire country devoted to their great and dear leaders.” (North Koreans are dedicated to their Dear Leader. Or else.)

Choe would parlay his new notoriety as the face of Korea opposition to the War on Terror. As noted, he opposed the military response to 9/11, but he soon mobilized opposition to the war in Iraq. In March 2003, Choe’s group had all of 50 members when it chose to host a “teach-in” against the war. When South Korean anti-Communists noted Choe’s connections to the North, he deemed their response “typical McCarthyism” and “censorship.” That May, Nodutdol took part in “Operation Homeland Resistance,” to draw attention to “‘war and occupation abroad’ and the continued domestic war against immigrants, people of color and poor people.” Among the “more than 56” organizations” that took part were CAAAV, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, United for Peace and Justice and ANSWER.

The overlapping network of radical/communist organizations is no mere coincidence. The fates of IAC, KTC, Nodutdol, and others would be continually intertwined. On January 6, 2006, Choe addressed the Workers World Party, giving an address entitled, “Korea & the struggle against U.S. imperialism, part 2.” The audio and video of the speech have miraculously disappeared from the website. However, the WWP website still contains a transcript of a speech he gave that May in his capacity as part of the Korea Truth Commission at a “May 13-14 conference on ‘Preparing for the Rebirth of the Global Struggle for Socialism’ in New York City.” On May 13, 2006, Choe spoke at the third plenary session, “Fighting Imperialism & Building Revolutionary Internationalism.” Speaking shortly after a member of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee, Choe declared, “Korea is also a forward operating base for U.S. imperialism.” A month later, Choe staged protests to demand U.S. troops out of Korea. In October 2006, KTC held a protest alongside IAC and Nodutdol to end UN sanctions against North Korea. Nodutdol’s statement, posted on IAC’s website the day of the march, claimed the Dear Leader acted in rational response to U.S. aggression.

Although Choe is now described as a “former” member, Nodutdol has gone forward on the radical path he blazed. It supported the Communist Party of Nepal, which engaged in a longstanding war against the monarchy and employed thousands of child soldiers in a successful revolution that resulted in their taking the reins of power. This June, Nodutdol was part of a “People’s Summit” outside the UN, including speakers like convicted Communist/terrorist lawyer Lynne Stewart. It has aligned itself with the National Lawyers Guild. Its website currently calls for “Peaceful national reunification” of North and South Korea, as well as: “Demilitarization of our communities – Military recruiters out of schools, No more ICE raids and scape-goating of immigrants, End police violence in our communities, No to Homeland Security’s infringement on civil liberties.” (Emphasis in original.)

Try as he may to skirt his true views, the New York Post shamed Choe into an admission about one of his 2006 WWP speeches late last month. When a Post reporter asked him if he really said “Korea is at the front line of the liberation struggles against imperialism,” Choe  confessed, “I may have said something like that.” John Liu, who had not heard the confession, said the allegations were a product of – wait for it – “McCarthyism,” adding, “There's no way he made those comments, no way.”

Choe continues to minimize the importance of his pro-Stalinist views. “I’m not running for secretary of state,” he said. “I’m running to represent the 20th district in the City Council.” One wry observer commented, “That is true in the same sense that David Duke ran for governor of Louisiana, not Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.” Former council member Julia Harrison, whom Liu defeated in 2001, observed New Yorkers should be “very concerned about the perception in the community that the North Korean government has a spokesperson.” Indeed, all Americans should be outraged the Teamsters, the SEIU, and George Soros have taken pains to assure the possibility that a pro-Stalinist who has made numerous trips to North Korea, visited Cuba as part of a Communist counterintelligence program, and remains uncertain whether North Korea oppresses its citizens may be the next Democratic member of the nation’s most iconic city. 

The author wishes to commend the invaluable blog johnchoe.blogspot.com for doing an outstanding job of cataloging media reports about John Choe. Much of the information in this article is drawn from sources it cites.


Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).


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