Councilman David Oh, Minority Whip

DavidOh David was born and raised in Philadelphia. He attended public school except for his freshman year of high school when he attended Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, PA. David graduated from Central High School, Dickinson College, and Rutgers University Law School-Camden. David’s father, the late Reverend Ki Hang Oh, founded Philadelphia’s first Korean-American church in 1953 and served as its Pastor until his death in 2006. In 1958, David’s cousin, In Ho Oh, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, was murdered by a group of teenage boys while mailing a letter to his parents. Because of their faith, In Ho Oh’s parents requested leniency for the boys and started a fund to help educate and rehabilitate them upon their release. Rev. Oh started a community service center in his name. In Ho Oh is buried at historic Old Pine Cemetery where his tombstone simply reads, “To turn sorrow into Christian purpose.”

David began his legal career while still in law school by starting a volunteer, free legal aid program. For this and other works, David received a Human Rights Award from the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. After graduating from law school, he worked as a Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney. In 1988, David resigned to enlist in the U.S. Army. David served as a 2nd Lieutenant, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Army National Guard, from 1989 to 1992 (David was not Special Forces qualified). In 1991, David was activated with his unit for Operation Desert Storm. The war ended before David was deployed overseas and he was released with an Honorable Discharge. Upon returning to Philadelphia, David reopened his solo law practice in Southwest Philadelphia. In 1999, David organized Governor Tom Ridge’s trade mission to South Korea, arranging meetings with Korea’s President and major corporate leaders. Over the years, David’s office outgrew its space and moved to Center City. David managed his firm for 18 years and then, in 2008, merged it into a larger firm.

Thanks to very broad and diverse support from voters across the city, David was elected to City Council At-Large in November 2011 and took office in January 2012. David is the first and only Asian-American elected to political office in Philadelphia. He is also the only veteran currently serving on City Council.

David and his wife, Heesun, have four children, Hannah, Joshua, Daniel and Sarah. They live in Southwest Philadelphia on the same block where David has lived since 1963.