Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa's Korea-American community says they don't know Jill Kelley despite her consular status

TAMPA — Don't know her. Never heard of her.

Members of Tampa Bay's Korean-American community say they were unaware of socialite Jill Kelley, at least until the woman whose friendships with top generals at MacDill Air Force Base erupted into a sex scandal and the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus.

Kelley was appointed an honorary consul in August by the South Korean government despite few apparent ties to that nation.

"Nobody knows who she is," said Kimi Springsteen, an Asian-American affairs liaison for Hillsborough County and a board member of the Korean Association of West Florida. "People in the community have been calling me asking, "Who is she?' "

Springsteen said she finds it impossible to believe that anyone with legitimate ties to her community would be an utter mystery to her.

South Korean diplomatic officials, meantime, said they are reviewing Kelley's status as an honorary consul and deciding whether it should be revoked.

"We are looking at it very closely," said Tae-jin Kim, a South Korean consul in Washington. "But no decision has been made as yet. We are looking at everything."

Kim said Kelley is one of 10 South Korean honorary consuls in the United States, and one of two in Florida.

Asked why Kelley was selected, Kim said, "She has some reputation in that Florida community. And she (wanted) to make a contribution to the Korean community."

The other honorary consul for South Korea in Florida is Miami attorney Burton A. Landy. Springsteen said Landy has been active in the Korean-American community and has even visited South Korea.

Landy told the Tampa Bay Times that he had once met Kelley. But he declined additional comment.

Honorary consuls are frequently appointed by nations with diplomatic ties to the United States. The honorary consuls must be approved by the U.S. State Department. They receive no pay and do not have full diplomatic immunity.

Often, the government that names someone an honorary consul will sometimes call on that person for help regarding minor issues.

They might be asked to speak to civic groups or to attend meetings with visiting South Korean dignitaries, according to people who have served in the position.

E. Harris Baum, an honorary consul for South Korea and a Philadelphia attorney, said the embassy once asked him to identify the body of a Korean-American who had committed suicide. Baum knew the man through his work as an honorary consul.

Springsteen said she and other members of Tampa Bay's Korean-American community feel insulted that someone like Kelley, apparently knowing few in the Korean community, would have been appointed an honorary consul.

"Somebody fouled up," Springsteen said. "Somebody is going to be fired. That's really embarrassing to the Korean foreign affairs office. It's almost comical."

Tampa's Korea-American community says they don't know Jill Kelley despite her consular status 11/15/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 15, 2012 7:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

    Blogs

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to

    Business

    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter

    Blogs

    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.