Monday, October 01, 2007

Ask A Korean! News: Presidential Race and a Collective Fob Moment

This is somewhat old news, but this is the first time the Korean had heard it from a reliable insider source.

Couple of weeks ago on Sept. 14, Sen. Hillary Clinton visited Los Angeles Koreatown in order to host a fundraiser for her presidential campaign. She was not the first presidential candidate to host a fundraiser in Koreatown -- Sen. Sam Brownback and John Edwards already hosted one in Koreatown as well.

Nonetheless, Clinton was the biggest name politician who ever had a fundraiser in Koreatown, and the Korean Americans in LA were excited about the visit, since it shows the growth of the Korean community's political clout. The fundraiser was held at Oxford Palace Hotel in Koreatown, and roughly 100 Korean community leaders attended it.

The big moment came when Clinton entered the hall, whereupon all attendees respectfully stood up and applauded. But a genuine Korean moment happened when, very soon as Clinton was sitting down, the claps broke into a rhythm, and the hundred people gathered into a chant:

"Hil-Luh-Li! Hil-Luh-Li!"

If you get it at this point, you are a Korean. If you don't, just try saying to yourself a brisk "one-two-three, one-two-three", while clapping at "one" and "three". Remember, most Korean names are three syllables. So it is natural for Koreans at a political function to clap and chant the name of the candidate in that manner.

However, Clinton is not Korean, and she was clearly puzzled by this. So she leaned over to her interpreter, while maintaining her smile:
"What are they chanting?"
"Um, that's your name, Senator."
"That's not my name."

On the plus side, the dinner raised about $350,000 for her campaign, and it did show that Korean American community is growing as a leal poritical folce. ;)

Got a question or comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. It's interesting to note that very few actual Korea Americans (younger 1.5 and 2nd generation) were actually in attendence and/or invited to this, otherwise I'd suspect such fobby behavior would have been left on the editing room floor where it belonged.

    It is my suspicion that the 1st generation is reluctant to allow the 1.5 and 2nd generation input on important matters such as this.

  2. Eh, the Korean thinks that's too paranoid of an interpretation. It's just more likely that younger generation Koreans did not have enough money to attend. It was a fundraiser after all.

    And really, what's wrong with a fobby behavior? It's just a nice little diversion, and nothing embarrassing.


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