Born and raised here in Philadelphia, David is and has always been a proud local guy, and it shows. He’s lived on the same block since 1963, attended Central High School, and when he became a lawyer, he chose to practice here in his hometown.
David’s dedication and value to Philadelphia was recognized early in his career when he was given a Human Rights Award by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations for starting up a free legal services program for disadvantaged Philadelphians. By that time, he was already an Assistant District Attorney rising quickly through the ranks due to his hard work and success on behalf of the people of Philadelphia.
David’s sense of service to his hometown was inspired by his late father, the Reverend Ki Hang Oh, who established Philadelphia’s first Korean American church in 1953 and later its first Korean American social service and education center. The impetus for the founding of this center was rooted in a family tragedy, the murder of his cousin In Ho Oh in 1958.
In his father, David found much to admire and emulate: strong character, uncompromising values, intellect and dedication. Reverend Oh worked hard, raising five kids on a modest income and living a simple but exemplary Christian life. Everything David’s father had taught him had brought David to the District Attorney’s office and David believed he could make a difference there. But it wasn’t enough.
In 1988, David resigned from his position as Assistant D.A. to enlist in the U.S. Army. Though given another option as an enlisting lawyer, David chose to serve in the Infantry starting basic training as a private. Again, with hard work and perseverance, he qualified for Officer Candidate’s School, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. David joined the National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) as a Special Forces candidate and completed Airborne School. During Operation Desert Storm, David was called to active duty with his unit, but before he was deployed, the war ended. He received an honorable discharge, and returned to Philadelphia. Although David is not Special Forces qualified, he is proud of his 3 years of service with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Once home, David managed a successful Center City law practice for 18 years before merging his firm with Zarwin Baum, a 50-lawyer firm. In 1992, David served on Mayor Ed Rendell’s transition team and, in 1999, was Governor Tom Ridge’s point man on an ambitious trade mission to South Korea, arranging meetings with Korea’s president and major corporate leaders.
In 2007, David ran for City Council At-Large for the second time and beat incredible odds, winning on Election Day by seven votes. Controversy arose the following day when he was informed that none of the absentee ballots had been counted. Then a few weeks later, David was told that he had lost by 122 absentee votes.
Now, once again, David answers the call to serve the city he loves, and steps forward as a candidate for the next City Councilman At-Large. David came in first place out of nine candidates in the Republican Primary on May 17th, and is campaigning hard to win one of two traditionally-Republican At-Large seats on Tuesday, November 8th.
David still lives on the same block in Southwest Philly where he grew up, with his wife Heesun and their son and daughter. David is the elected Republican Ward Leader for the 3rd Ward.
Awards and Recognition
- Special Recognition Award (2006), 6ABC Community Advisory Board
- Honor Graduate Award (2005), Philadelphia Association for Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
- Public Service Award (2004), Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 106
- Community Service Award (2004), Pan-Asian Council of Greater Philadelphia
- Humanitarian Award (1995), Philadelphia Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews
- The Outstanding Young Leader Award (1994), Philadelphia Chapter of the U.S. Jaycees
- Outstanding Service Award (1990), Pan-Asian Council of Greater Philadelphia
- Human Rights Award (1985), Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations
Memberships and Affiliations
- First Commercial Bank of Philadelphia, former board member
- Nazareth Hospital, board member
- MiND (formerly WYBE) Independent Television, board member
- Philadelphia Tribune Charities, board member
- Monte Jade Science and Technology Association, board member
- The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, board member
- Hahnemann University (Philadelphia Health & Education Corporation), former board member
- Nazareth Academy High School, board member
- Community College of Philadelphia, former board member
- 82nd Airborne Division Association: Philadelphia Hajdak/Mokan Chapter, trustee
- Educational Nominating Panel, former panel member
- NAACP Philadelphia Chapter, Silver Life member
- Federal Judicial Nominating Committee for the Eastern District of PA, former member
- Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, former commission member
- Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, former commission member
- Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, former board member
- Walnut Street Theater, former board member
- Crime Prevention Association, former board member
- Pennsylvania House Advisory Committee on Workers’ Compensation Reform, former member
- Dickinson College, former Alumni Council member
- Chinatown Learning Center, Advisory Board member
- Christian Street YMCA, board member