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With Great Admiration

By Beth Yoon

n a Wednesday evening in Queens New York, I watched my now semi-retired father-in-law sign copies of his recently published autobiography. I was truly in awe of the life that was on those pages. I sat there, humbled and proud to have a man like this as the grandfather to my son.

It was around the same time last year that because of my father-in-law, I stood in my own New York City apartment shaking hands with Senator Hillary Clinton during a fundraiser which he had sponsored. Again, I stood in awe of him. The previous year he was the recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Award which honors hard working, successful immigrants in this country. Yet again, humbled and proud I was.

My father-in-law, Dr. Ki Yoon Yoon fled North Korea as a young boy on a motor bike in order to find a better life for himself. He was only 14 years old. He worked very hard to put himself through medical school in South Korea. It was during this time that he saw a beautiful woman working in a cigarette shop. He wanted to meet her so badly that he began visiting the store daily just to get to know her. His charms worked, they fell in love and she became his wife.

In the 70’s they packed up with three children and moved to the United States, again in the pursuit of a better life. This was a difficult time, with very little money and the realization that part of his medical schooling would need to be repeated. However, the hard working, “must succeed” demeanor that he contained along with the devoted love of his wife and children kept the family going. He went on to become a renowned physician with his own practice as well as a great business man. He put his three children through school having two of them follow in his foot steps as doctors. The other, his first born son and my husband is a successful business man.

My in-law’s still live in Queens, New York and are enjoying their semi-retired life. For now the book is in Korean only but will most likely be available in English in the future. My father-in-law has led a very interesting and diverse life that I have been able to hear through family stories ( I do not read Korean, so I must patiently wait for the English translation). His perseverance in this life has given us so much and for this I give such thanks to him as I sit at my computer writing this article, humbled and proud…yet again.


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