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Three days drama to “Toyota hearings” ? Dongsuk Kim

< Political power compiled by Korean American>





          On Feb. 22nd Monday 7:30 P.M., Congressmen Dan Burton appeared at Capital Grille located at 601 Pennsylvania Ave. Dan Burton was on time with his wife. If his secretary or assistant came to the meeting instead of Dan Burton himself, all the efforts were going to be meaningless. Therefore, I myself stared the entrance of the restaurant for thirty minutes.


            When Dan Burton with his wife entered the restaurant, I almost burst into tears saying “Ah Thank you God.” Because he was preparing for Toyota hearings on Wednesday, Dan Burton looked really tired and worn out. However, cheerful greeting from Dan Burton’s wife made the atmosphere warm and comfortable. At that moment, I had flashback of my wife’s pray prior to my trip, and face of Hye-Hyun Choi, the victim from Toyota Company. I was able to feel some sort assurance and certainty that God must be helping me right now. Suddenly, I felt that I would talk to the congressman with confidence and with authoritative voice.


            First, I asked about his 15th election, and Korean Americans under Indiana District. Dan Burton said that there are seven members from the same party that are trying to against him, and commented that the election gets more difficult with each year. Dan Burton’s wife made a joke saying that since she has her “lucky pig card,” which she obtained from a monk during her trip to Kyung-Ju in Korea, the election won’t be that difficult.


            Just when Dan Burton asked about my wife, I took this opportunity to explain “Hye-Hyun Choi’s case” along with the story of my wife praying for me before I left New York. I delivered reports and documents package related to the case saying that it was from my wife. There was heavy rain outside, and many people in the restaurant were discussing about something. Some people were congressmen, and I was able to recognize them.


            Of course I tried my best to explain the tragedy story of Hye-Hyun Choi past thirteen years. Aren’t the U.S. politicians protecting citizens’ safety and wealth against foreign business? Citizens of the U.S. believe in saying that “the truth will be revealed, and justice will win,” but don’t politicians believe in the same thing? I explained to Dan Burton using similar logics from these two questions mentioned above. The Congressmen Dan Burton just replied that there are many victims from his district too, and nothing more. The rest of the discussion was about how the congressman Dan Burton is standing committee of Toyota hearings, the one who question this time, and the one who keeps responsibility of Korean Americans.


            Just three days ago, I received the news that president of Toyota is going to attend Toyota hearings hosted by Oversight and Government Reform committee, which Dan Burton is a member of, as witness. Furthermore, Congressman Dan Burton previously served as chairman of this standing committee for four years.


            I knew that it was extremely difficult or nearly impossible to make a dinner meeting with Congressman in two days. However, I also was well aware of the fact that this opportunity will not happen again. Therefore, I used all means to contact Dan Burton, and was able to arrange a dinner meeting on Monday. Then, I was able to contact Hye-Hyun Choi, the victim, through e-mail to let her know about the confirmation of the dinner meeting with Congressman Dan Burton.


            On Wednesday 24 2:20 PM o’clock, Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder of Toyota Company, appeared at the conference room of Oversight and Government Reform committee, Rayburn (House of Representatives’ Hall) first floor 154, with the company’s North American President. The conference room was already full of the media.


            For regular hearing session only few congressmen attends the hearing, but almost all congressmen attended the Toyota hearing. Congressman Edolphus Towns from Brooklyn, NYC sat down at a designated seat for chairmen. Akio Toyoda raised his right hand and declared witness oath, and read previously written statements in English. This four-hour long Toyota hearing continued.


            Finally, the chairman gave permission to Congressman Dan Burton the right to question. As soon as he took the microphone, Congressman Dan Burton brought out the case in 1997 that dealt with Toyota car and a woman who lost two legs. Then he delivered the case related documents to Akio Toyoda. Dan Burton asked Akio Toyoda to carefully examine the case, and notify him about the position that Toyota Company stands on. Akio Toyoda said yes to Dan Burton’s request.


            Congressman Burton’s request well showed his firm standing on his willingness to take care of the case. It worked as planned. Congressman Burton asked about the Hye-Hyun Choi’s case to Akio Toyota directly in front of the the media from all over the world. At the same time, it was recorded on a congress record. From several the the media, questions were asked to offices of congressman, the office of Korean American Voters Council (KAVC) in NY, and directly to Hye-Hyun Choi in Boston.


            The truth of one woman in Boston, which was hidden behind the Toyota Company, finally gained recognition from the society. The Toyota Company offered money to her, and tried to come to an agreement to hide the whole incidence. Nevertheless, Hye-Hyun Choi did not compromise. Hye-Hyun Choi has been fighting for 13 years to prove that the car was the source of the problem rather than the driver. Although Hye-Hyun Choi is struggling from general paralysis, she is still fighting for the justice. Through this Toyota hearing and Congressman Dan Burton, Hye-Hyun Choi’s case can finally be highlighted for the real truth and justice.


< Congressman Dan Burton is a 14th member of the Diplomatic place. When KAVC was tackling issues such as Visa waiver, comforted women, and the name of Dokdo, Congressman Dan Burton made close relationship with Korean community. Congressman Dan Burton is currently the chairman of Korean Caucus. In 2009, Dong-Guk University in Korea invited Congressman Dan Burton to Kyung-Ju, and bestowed doctorate degree honor on political science. >