Raymond Cho arrived in Vancouver B.C. in March 1967 as a landed immigrant from Seoul, Korea. Before he came to Canada, Raymond already had a B.A. degree in English from the University of Foreign Studies and worked for the Cultural Division of the American Embassy in South Korea.
Although Raymond had less than one hundred dollars in his pocket when he arrived in Vancouver, he had full confidence and high hopes that he would succeed. However, Raymond soon realized that he could not find a decent job. It seemed that racial discrimination in Vancouver in the 60s was serious and was negatively affecting his chances on getting a job.
After a long search, Raymond’s first job in Vancouver was as a dishwasher. After a while of working tirelessly as a dishwasher, Raymond realized that in order for him to become a successful Canadian citizen, he needed to try to become either very rich, or get higher education in order to become a professional worker. Raymond decided to take the latter path.
In order to earn money for his future education, he had gone to work in asbestos mines in British Columbia just south of Yukon Territory. In order to make enough money, Raymond worked three jobs simultaneously; a mine labourer during the day, a waiter in the evening, and a janitor in the middle of the night.
While working in northern British Columbia, Raymond first came across the indigenous people of the area and witnessed how they were being exploited. After this instance, Raymond became passionate about helping those who were exploited by others.
At the end of 1967, Raymond traveled to Toronto. Unfortunately, it was again very difficult for Raymond to find a job. The first job he found was a janitorial role at the Toronto General Hospital. Although life was very hard as a new immigrant, Raymond never gave up on his dream. His goal to get a higher education and to become a successful professional kept pushing him to go further.
Raymond worked very hard to get his first Master of Social Work degree from the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Raymond also studied for and received a Master’s degree of Education and a Doctorate degree in counselling psychology, all from the University of Toronto.
Raymond Cho has always felt grateful to the Catholic Children’s Aid Society; this organization had helped him get a job as a social worker and financially supported him during his time of studies at the University of Toronto.
Besides Raymond’s responsibilities as a professional social worker and his demanding academic studies from the University of Toronto, Raymond became heavily involved in advocating for human rights. Raymond dedicated his advocacy efforts to the cases of human rights abuse in North Korea, fighting for the rights of Koreans who live in Japan, and for the restoration of democracy in South Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. Raymond and his wife accompanied Rev. Jesse Jackson to Japan and South Korea to advocate for these issues in 1986. Furthermore, Raymond describes himself as a human rights activist, striving for the fair and equal treatment of all people.
Raymond was first elected as a Metro Councillor in 1991 and was re-elected to the amalgamated City of Toronto in 1997. Since then he was re-elected as a City Councillor with an accumulative 8 landslide victories overall.
In 2016, MPP Raymond Cho won a by-election in the riding of Scarborough-Rouge River and became the first Member of Provincial Parliament of Korean background in Ontario. He is proud to represent Scarborough-rouge River and is thankful for the trust placed in him by his constituents.
Raymond has been able to continue to reach his fullest potential mainly because of his inspirational wife, Soon Ok. Soon Ok has been instrumental in Raymond’s life and his ability to thrive in his work in public office. Soon Ok is thoroughly involved in the community through various outreach programs. Furthermore, Soon Ok has tirelessly worked on Raymond’s multiple campaigns as his campaign manager and ensured that their three sons were well taken care of.
MPP Raymond Cho and his wife, Soon Ok, have been living in Scarborough for the past 45 years and they have three adult sons. His oldest son Raymond Jr. is chief psychiatrist at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Texas. Young, the middle son, obtained his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Cambridge University in England and completed medical training at Yale University. He currently is a plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas. William, the youngest son, obtained a B.A. degree in Education from McGill University and completed his Master’s Degree at the University of Toronto. Currently William is teaching in Montréal, Canada. Three years ago he was chosen as high school teacher of the province of Quebec.
About nine years ago MPP Cho founded the Global Youth Leaders which consisted of high school leaders from the Greater Toronto Area. Raymond led the GYL group to the Philippines three times to build houses for the victims of typhoons. He also led the students from GYL to Jamaica twice to help orphans with HIV and AIDS, and to help seniors at the Golden Age Senior Home.
Raymond Cho feels incredibly humbled to represent approximately 135,000 people from a wide variety of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Raymond Cho wants to express his most sincere appreciation to all of the residents of Scarborough-Rouge River for placing their confidence in him. He would like to thank everyone who gave him their support and he hopes that he will be able to continue to serve all the residents of Scarborough-Rouge River with dedication, compassion and humility.