Myung Ki Hong, ‘towering figure’ of Korean-American interior community, dies at 87 – Press Enterprise


Myung Ki Hong, a leader of the Korean American community in the Inland Empire, has passed away. He was 87 years old.

Loma Linda resident died Wednesday August 18 at Loma Linda University Medical Center after “a sudden and unexpected health disaster,” according to his family.

“The Korean American community has lost an imposing figure,” said Edward Chang, professor of ethnic studies at UC Riverside and longtime colleague of Hong.

Hong was born in Seoul, South Korea. He came to the United States for school, becoming the first Korean to earn his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UCLA in 1959, his family said.

  • Myung Ki Hong delivers a speech on Saturday, August 14, 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the installation of the Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho statue in downtown Riverside. It would be his last speech. (Courtesy of Mina Kim)

  • Myung Ki Hong shows a journal of Korean War memorabilia. (File photo by William Wilson Lewis III, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Myung Ki Hong, center, is seen with family members in Newport Beach on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20, 2021. Left to right: Michelle, David, Christine Hong and their grandson Hanŭl Hong O’Wren. (Courtesy of Christine Hong)

  • Myung Ki Hong is celebrating his wife Lorrie’s 81st birthday in March 2020 at the Victoria Club in Riverside. (Courtesy of Christine Hong)

  • Left to right, Carol Park, Edward Chang, and Myung Ki Hong stand near the Koreatown site in Riverside, believed to be the first Korean-born American settlement in the United States (file photo)

  • Myung Ki Hong has granddaughter Hanŭl Hong O’Wren in 2019. (Courtesy Christine Hong)

  • Christine Hong, one of Myung Ki Hong’s daughters, said her father was “a longtime Bruin.” He graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1959. (Courtesy of Christine Hong)

  • From left to right, Edward Chang, professor at UC Riverside and founding director of the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies; Myung Ki Hong; and Ralph Ahn, the youngest son of Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho. (Courtesy of Edward Chang)

  • Myung Ki Hong and Lorrie Youngok Hong are seen at a donation ceremony at UC Riverside with university officials. Hong donated $ 370,000 to the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC Riverside in 2018. (Courtesy of Edward Chang)

  • Myung Ki Hong is seen with his closest high school friends at Yoido Airport in 1954, before his trip as a student to the United States. (Courtesy of Christine Hong)

  • Myung Ki Hong is seen outside the Sono Hotel in Yeosu, South Korea. (Courtesy of John Suh)

“When he first came to this country, he started out so humbly,” his daughter Christine Hong said, recalling Hong’s first jobs on a Colorado dairy farm and as a house boy in Beverly Hills. . These stories, she says, provide insight into her father before his success.

“He has always been someone who has risen above … English was not his mother tongue, but his philosophy, rather than ‘pay up’, was to ‘share'”, a- she declared.

Hong moved to Riverside in 1974 and established his own business, Dura Coat Products, Inc., in 1986. He became involved with the growing Korean American community in Riverside County and in 2002 established Bright World / M&L Hong Foundation, with the aim of providing education and opportunities for Korean-American youth. That year, he received an honorary doctorate from La Sierra University in recognition of his humanitarian work.

Hong’s commitment to his community has never wavered.

He was former head of his church, Loma Linda Korean Seventh-day Adventist. He served on the board of trustees of Wilshire School in Los Angeles, the only Korean-language elementary school in Southern California. He has donated money to ethnic studies programs at UCR, La Sierra University, and UCLA, among other schools and nonprofit groups. He has received numerous accolades, including the Korean American Leadership Award from the Korean American Federation in 2009 and the South Korean National Medal of Honor in 2011.

In Riverside, Hong was president of the Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Memorial Foundation of America from 1999 to 2001 and led the construction and fundraising efforts for a statue of Chang-Ho – a leader of the Korean independence movement – in Riverside town center. He then helped set up a Chang-Ho exhibit at the Riverside Museum. In 2018, Hong donated $ 370,000 to the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC Riverside and became its chairman of the board.

On Saturday, August 14, Hong gave what would be his final speech in downtown Riverside for the 20th anniversary of the Chang-Ho statue. He expressed the wish for a center of the Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Memorial Foundation for the Korean American community and reminded the guests that “our work is not finished.”

Hong has been recognized by his peers and in the Korean media for his humility and service.

“Hong was a man of honesty, hard work and perseverance, just like Dosan (Ahn Chang-Ho),” wrote John Lee, a friend and former Korea Times reporter. “The reason why Hong donated a significant portion of his assets for the construction of the Dosan statue was that he wanted to share the (Chang-Ho) spirit, respected by all Koreans, with the citizens. from Riverside as well, especially the younger generation. “

Hong died a year after his wife, Lorrie Youngok Hong, whom he was married to for almost 40 years. He is survived by his children, Michelle, Christine and David Hong; his granddaughter, Hanŭl Hong O’Wren; and five younger siblings, Bokki Hong, Minki Hong, Taiki Lee, Sukki Hong and Imki Jo.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, September 2 at 7 p.m. at the Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loma Linda. Masks and vaccines are mandatory to attend. The service will be broadcast live on YouTube. A funeral service is scheduled for Friday, September 3 at 1 p.m. at Montecito Memorial Park, 3520 E. Washington St., Colton.

For further information: Elder Sung Woo Kim, Vice Chairman of the Memorial Services Committee, 909-213-8300.

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