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June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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California State SenateCandidate for District 29Newman Replacement

Photo of Joseph Cho

Joseph Cho

Journalist/Nonprofit Chairperson
31,726 votes (21.4%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Top priority is to defeat the recall. I am only running to replace Josh Newman with someone who would be as close to Newman as possible.
  • Fully fund our public schools
  • Affordable healthcare for all



Profession:Former Mayor, Journalist, Non-Profit Founder
Council Member, Cerritos City Counil — Elected position (2007–2015)


Yanbian University PhD., The North Korean Nuclear Threat and the Road to Peace on the Korean Peninsula” (2006)


I came to America with my wife, Lucy, with nothing more than the shirts on their backs in order to escape the military dictatorship that ruled South Korea in the 1970’s with its doctrine of Yushin. I took graduate level courses at Cal State Northridge and worked menial jobs until landing a job with the Los Angeles County Department of Data Processing. After three years with the Department in which I advanced from computer operator to assistant manager (a career progression that normally takes 10 years), I made the determination that my career with Los Angeles County has hit a glass ceiling, so I quit and started my own realty business. The business I founded was the first Korean owned business in Cerritos, and it was highly successful. I became a millionaire, and a Korean television program profiled me for a new series about successful Koreans abroad called ”Global Koreans”. The show for which I was profiled never aired due to unrest in South Korea in May 1980, in what became known as the Kwangju Massacre. 


The Kwangju Massacre in which the military dictatorship in South Korea murdered over a thousand protesters in the southern city of Kwangju impacted our lives more than just because it preempted a television show which profiled my success. It made me and my wife re-examine our purpose in life. We subsequently decided to leave our successful business and start a news magazine to report on the activities of the South Korean dictatorship. Operating under the freedom of the press afforded us by living in the United States, we were able to report on things that the news media in South Korea could not. Naturally, the South Korean dictatorship did not appreciate it, and fought us at every step of the way, driving us into bankruptcy. However, they kept on going.


After Democracy was installed in South Korea, we closed our news magazine and started a new venture in our lives, with the purpose of rebuilding the fortune that we had lost fighting the dictatorship in South Korea. The business we founded, a printing company, was also highly successful, and after only a few years we were able to sell it and comfortably retire just before celebrating our 60th birthdays.


After retiring, Joseph turned my attention from the country of my birth to my new homeland. I noticed that Korean Americans make up the largest ethnic group in my then hometown of Cerritos, yet Korean Americans were lagging other ethnic groups in political representation on the city council. I therefore mobilized the Korean American community in order to field a candidate to run in the 2003 city council elections. Not finding anybody from the Korean American community willing to make the necessary sacrifices, I decided to throw my own hat into the ring. I lost the first time he ran, but was undeterred, and the second time I ran he lost by less than 300 votes. I finally won on his third try. In between the three campaigns, I also went back and fulfilled a lifelong dream of getting a Ph.D.


Now, as a retired councilmember, I have been focusing my attention on bringing peace to Korea. I founded the non-profit foundation KUSPI, which is an abbreviation for Korea-US Peace Institute. The goal of the foundation is to educate both the American and Korean public about the origins of the conflict in Korea and offer solutions to peacefully resolve the conflict. I have written five books on the topic of the conflict in Korea and the nuclear crisis inflicting the Peninsula. As part of my work with KUSPI, I am in the process of writing a new comprehensive book, this one in English, about the conflict. I expect to have this book completed after the June 5 elections.


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Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $191,783

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Joseph Cho
Orange County Registrar of Voters
Employees of Far East National Bank

More information about contributions

By State:

California 100.00%

By Size:

Large contributions (100.00%)
Small contributions (0.00%)

By Type:

From organizations (1.23%)
From individuals (98.77%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I have spent the majority of my life fighting for Democracy, Social Justice, and Equality. Those are the most important roles of government. Having lived under the military dictatorship that used to rule South Korea, I have a good appreciation and deeply cherish those concepts.

Position Papers

The Nuclear Crisis and a Path to Peace on Korean Peninsula


Ideas for resolving the conflict in the Korean Peninsula and the nuclear crisis that it has brought

In his upcoming book, Dr. Cho walks through the history of the conflict as well as the history of the region. In order to resolve a conflict, it is important to understand the conflict from the perspective of both parties involved. The first misperception that Dr. Cho addresses is the central issue of what is the conflict about, and who is involved. While most people in the US view the conflict on the Korean Peninsula as a conflict between North Korea and South Korea, Dr. Cho challenges this misperception and makes the case that the real conflict is between the US and North Korea, with South Korea being only a proxy to the United States in the conflict.


Dr. Cho also enlightens his readers about the genesis of the conflict whose origins date back to the last few days of World War II, which ended in August of 1945. Although World War II officially ended when Germany surrendered in May 1945 and Japan surrendered in August of 1945, World War II spawned two new conflicts: the Cold War, and the conflict in Korea. The Cold War has already been resolved, but the conflict in Korea persists to this day. Therefore, unless and until the conflict in Korea is resolved, the remnants of World War II will not be over.


In offering his ideas for solutions to the conflict, Dr. Cho is proposing bold ideas that grossly diverge from traditional Korean thinking. Dr. Cho is no different from every Korean, on both sides of the divide, who dreams of a day in which the Peninsula can be reunified as a single entity. However, Dr. Cho calls for putting this dream on hold, and recognize the status quo of two Koreas as a new permanent arrangement until a future date can be reached in which the dream can be realized. While peace can exist without reunification, reunification cannot exist without peace. This is why Dr. Cho is advocating a position of no reunification at the present. Dr. Cho is hopeful that the upcoming June 12 summit between President Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un could finally bring peace to the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, he is afraid that a failure of the summit meeting could increase the likelihood of re-igniting an active war on the Korean Peninsula.


Dr. Cho is predicting that peace on the Korean Peninsula would create an economic stimulus of a magnitude that would be at a level of a 21st Century gold rush. With California being the gateway from the Continental United States to Asia, California could reap huge benefits from such a 21st Century gold rush.

Candidate Contact Info

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