Press Release
June 18, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara lauded Filipina Jasmine Bacurnay-Lee, the first naturalized citizen elected into South Korea's National Assembly, as an exemplar for overseas Filipinos.

Lee, 35-year old naturalized Korean actress and civil servant, was elected as a proportional representative to the National Assembly following the victory of her party, Saenuri Party, during the elections held last April.

Lee was born in Manila but moved to Davao when she was a teenager. In Davao, she met Korean husband Lee Dongho. After getting married, they moved to South Korea in 1995, then she was naturalized in 1998. Her husband died in 2010 in an accident and left her with two children.

"Times are changing. The election of Rep. Lee is a concrete example of how South Korea is slowly shedding its ethnic nationalism and is opening up to multiculturalism," said Angara.

Lee is an advocate of multiculturalism and migrant women in Korea. She is also the executive secretary of Waterdrop Korea and works at the Seoul government's Foreign Residents Assistance Division.

Lee's candidacy was in line with the ruling Saenuri party's goal to draw more support from foreign residents. She also pledged to help abolish prejudice against interracial families.

"This is a stunning victory in a male-dominated society like Korea. We have millions of Filipino migrants all over the world, especially in the United States. Some have been elected into executive positions. However, this is the first time a Filipino has been elected into a parliament outside our country," said Angara.

"Jasmine Lee has made history--and has set the bar for what Filipinos can achieve in the global arena," he added.

Angara, who met Lee during his recent visit to Korea, continued, "Lee's election means South Korea is now opening its doors to its neighboring countries. It is an auspicious time to further strengthen our bilateral relations and to explore all possible areas of cooperation.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, noted that the Economist and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predict that South Korea's economy will surpass Japan's in five years.

Angara concluded, "We hope to entice more Korean investors to come to the Philippines and join the burgeoning local Korean community here. We also hope that more Filipinos will be able to study and work in Korea. Rep. Lee can certainly help make these things happen."

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