The daughter of first-generation American citizens who immigrated to the United States from South Korea to pursue the American Dream, Pearl Kim has 11 years of law enforcement experience as an Assistant District Attorney and a Senior Deputy Attorney General for Pennsylvania. Pearl is running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District with a goal of bringing people together in a bipartisan way to address the challenges facing our country on issues such as immigration reform, maintaining a strong economy, criminal justice reform, human trafficking, and increasing opportunities for the economically disadvantaged. If elected, Pearl would be the first woman of color elected to Congress in Pennsylvania history.
During her career as a special victims prosecutor, Pearl developed a reputation as a fierce advocate for victims of child physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and rape. That passionate advocacy for victims stemmed from her own personal experience as a survivor of college sexual assault and knowing what it is like to feel that government is not working for you. As an Assistant District Attorney, Pearl took a special interest in the problem of human trafficking and secured the first conviction under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s human trafficking statute.
Pearl went on to become head of the human trafficking unit in the district attorney’s office and her expertise led her to be named to a special state government commission's advisory committee on human trafficking. Recognizing the shortcomings in the existing statute, Pearl and other committee members recommended a number of significant changes to state law that expanded the scope and enabled prosecutors to pursue more cases of human trafficking. A number of those recommendations were incorporated into a new tougher statute that was approved by the legislature and Pearl went on to secure the first trafficking of persons conviction under the new trafficking statute as well.
While working in the District Attorney’s Office, Pearl was diagnosed with cancer. Her successful battle has given Pearl a new perspective. Recognizing that life is short, she felt that there was more that she could be doing to be an agent of change. As a result, she accepted a senior executive position in the Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, that allowed her to focus on one of her personal priorities: campus safety and sexual assault on college campuses.
Pearl soon realized changes on the federal level were needed to truly make an impact on campus safety and other victim advocacy issues. When her local Congressman decided not to see re-election following complaints of inappropriate behavior, Pearl felt that it was time to follow her personal motto “Be the change you want to see in the world.” She stepped down from her job in the Attorney General Office and announced her intention to run for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.
In addition to her work as a special victims prosecutor, Pearl has been active in a number of areas advocating for criminal justice reform. As a child of immigrants, Pearl recognized that individuals who do not have English as a native language can face challenges and barriers in the courtroom – both as defendants and victims. As a result, she became active in a number of organizations and committees that sought to address language barriers that could result in individuals not receiving proper justice. That work included serving as a member of the Language Access Advisory Group for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, as well as a member of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness’s Interpreter Services Committee.
Pearl was also active in a number of other organizations that sought to address criminal justice reform, as well as address problems of inequality and providing opportunities for the disadvantaged. That work included serving as a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee; the Delaware County Women’s Commission; the board of the non-profit Pearl S. Buck International; and a member of the executive committee of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania.
Pearl has never been one to be happy with the status quo, and that includes the current political climate. Pearl will bring a fresh perspective to Congress, including her unique personal story, experiences, and background. She is committed to being a force for change, shaking up the political establishment, breaking glass ceilings, and fighting for those who feel they do not have a voice in government.