Myung Ki Hong, “towering figure” in the Korean Inland American community, dies at the age of 87 – Press Enterprise

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Myung Ki Hong, a leader of the Inland Empire Korean-American community, has died. He was 87.

The Loma Linda resident died on Wednesday August 18 at Loma Linda University Medical Center after “sudden and unexpected damage to health,” his family said.

“The Korean-American community has lost a tremendous personality,” said Edward Chang, professor of ethnic studies at UC Riverside and long-time colleague of Hong.

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

  • Myung Ki Hong will deliver 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 was to be his last speech. (Courtesy Mina Kim)

  • Myung Ki Hong shows a newspaper about memories of the Korean War. (File Photo by William Wilson Lewis III, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Myung Ki Hong, center, can be seen with family members in Newport Beach on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20, 2021. From left are: Michelle, David, Christine Hong and granddaughter Hanŭl Hong O’Wren. (Courtesy Christine Hong)

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

  • From left, Carol Park, Edward Chang, and Myung Ki Hong stand near Riversides Koreatown, believed to be the first organized Korean American settlement in the U.S. (file photo)

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

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

  • From left: 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 Edward Chang)

  • Myung Ki Hong and Lorrie Youngok Hong are seen attending a fundraising 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 Edward Chang)

  • Myung Ki Hong was spotted with his closest high school friends at Yoido Airport in 1954 before traveling to the United States as a student. (Courtesy Christine Hong)

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

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

“He’s always been someone who stood out … English wasn’t his first language, but his philosophy was to ‘keep sharing’ rather than ‘keep paying’,” she said.

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

Hong’s commitment to his community never let up.

He was senior elder in his church, Loma Linda Seventh-day Korean Adventist. He served on the board of directors at Wilshire School in Los Angeles, the only Korean-language elementary school in Southern California. He donated money to ethnic study programs at UCR, La Sierra University, and UCLA, among other schools and nonprofit groups. He has received many awards including the Korean American Federation’s Korean American Leadership Award in 2009 and the South Korean National Medal of Honor in 2011.

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

On Saturday, August 14th, Hong gave his final speech on the 20th anniversary of the Chang Ho statue in Riverside. He wanted a Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Memorial Foundation center for the Korean-American community and reminded guests that “our work is not done yet.”

Hong was recognized by colleagues and in all 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 reporter for the Korea Times. “The reason Hong donated a significant portion of his fortune to build the Dosan statue was because he (Chang-Ho’s) spirit, which is respected by all Koreans, wanted to share with the people of Riverside – especially the one younger generation. “

Hong died a year after his wife, Lorrie Youngok Hong, with whom he had been married 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 on Thursday, September 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loma Linda, Korea. Masks and vaccinations are required to participate. The service is streamed live on Youtube. A funeral service is scheduled for Friday, September 3, at 1:00 p.m. at Montecito Memorial Park, 3520 E. Washington St., Colton.

Information: Elder Sung Woo Kim, vice chairman of the memorial committee, 909-213-8300.


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