“ It is with great sadness that I write this letter, informing the KAEA membership that Dr. Hong Youl Park recently passed away on April 7, 2022, in Laguna Woolds, California. Dr. Park served the KAEA in a variety of capacities: President in 2004, Vice President in 1987, Secretary General in 1995 and several others. On the KAEA website, let’s open a page for condolences so that his KAEA friends can express and share their fond memories of Dr. Park. The following is a life history of Dr. Park from his family.
In loving memory of Dr. Hong Youl Park
Dr. Hong Youl Park was born on March 1, 1938 in Gongju, South Korea. He survived Japanese and Chinese invasions, the Korean War, and service to the Korean Army. He received a BA in Economics from Kyung Hee University (1962) and an MA in Economics from Seoul National University (1966). In 1968, he moved to the United States and received
an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University (1970) and a Ph.D. in Economics from Utah State University (1975).
In 1975, Dr. Park accepted a position to teach at Saginaw Valley State University, where he was a Tenured Professor for 43 of his 47 years and taught over 10,000 students. Dr. Park was Department Chair four times (1990-1992, 1996-98, 2004-2006, 2008-10); Editor of the SVSU Economic and Business Review (1983-1992); and Director of the Center for Economic and Business Research (1979-1992). In 2002, Dr. Park received a US Fulbright Scholarship to Korea. He collected and published data for four articles on the Unified Theory of the Firm, Corporate Strategies and Dynamic Capabilities of the Firm. During 47 years of teaching, he published 58 articles and in 2011, at the annual Kyung Hee University Alumni Association’s North America Meeting, Dr. Park was named person of the year by his alma mater.
Dr. Park was active with the Korea-America Economic Association (KAEA) where he served as the Secretary-General, Vice President, President (2004), and Chair of the Advisory Board (2008, 2009). While serving as President of KAEA, he initiated the first joint conference with the Bank of Korea (Korean Central Bank) and organized five other joint conferences with (1) The Korean Economic Association, (2) Korea Development Institute, (3) Korea Financial Institute, (4) Korean Monetary and Financial Association, and (5) American Economic Association.
Dr. Park passed on to heaven on April 7, 2022 in Laguna Woods, California. A loving father and husband, he is survived by his wife, Woo Hee Park and four daughters, Jiyun, Helene, Anne and Sonia Park, two sons, Michael and Andrew Keyoung, as well as grandchildren Emmelene, Marko, and their father Eli Perencevich; Michael’s wife, Chloe and children, Lucienne, Nicholas, and Ethan as well as Andrew’s wife, Chin Yee and children, Sky and Kingston. In Korea, he is survived by his brother and sister and their children.
Dr. Park loved playing golf (even through November), swimming, taking long walks in nature, and spending time with his family. He served as an elder at Nanum Presbyterian Church in Saginaw, Michigan, where he enjoyed community with his life-long friends through Christ. He and his wife, Woohee, semi-retired to Laguna Woods, CA where they became members of the Bethel Korean Church. He will be remembered for his extraordinary perseverance, humility, kindness, spirit, generosity, and dedication to the study of Economics.
Please join his family and friends to commemorate and celebrate his life and light:
April 24, 2022; 12.30pm
Nanum Presbyterian Church
5560 McCarty Road
Saginaw, MI 48604
Here is a follow-up letter from Dr. Suk Kim.
April 27, 2022
Dear President Dr. Sul, Secretary-General Dr. Kim, and President-elect Dr. Chang
Thank you very much for what the KAEA has done for Hong Park. I am writing this letter to tell you about his contributions to the KAEA and my relations with him. He is the first Korean American economic professor I happened to know not through the KAEA but through my friends. Hong Park and one of my middle-school classmates were their classmates at Kyung Hee University. Hong Park and one of my high school classmates studied together for their MA in Economics at Seoul National University. The distance between his home in Saginaw Valley and my home in Southern Michigan is about a 2-hour drive. We played golf around my home once every couple of years for many years. We were supposed to play golf in the fall of 2021, but I canceled it because of unexpected personal issues. To play golf with me around my home, he had to be on the move for about 10 straight hours: 4 hours for a round trip, 4 hours for a round of golf, and one or two hours for dinner and talk. The letter from his wife says that he played golf through November 2021. It tells you how much he loved to play golf. I more or less became an active member of the KAEA thanks to him.
He taught for the two fall terms at SVSU under a deal with his school that he would teach only one term per year—each fall for five years. If he did not have a stroke, there is no question in my mind he would have taught for another three years—a total of 50 years at the same school. He told me that he had never smocked cigarettes and never drank any alcoholic beverage, in his entire life. When he hits a golf ball with a driver, it flies about 200 yards, but when I hit the same ball with the same driver, it flies no more than 130 yards. He was incredibly careful about everything he was eating. I always felt that he was much healthier and stronger than me, so I was really shocked and saddened to learn that Hong Park—one of my best friends–passed away.
Hong Park, as President-elect, visited Seoul in the Summer of 2003 to look for a possible expansion of KAEA activities in Korea. Like the letter by his wife showed, he initiated the first KAEA-BOK joint conference. This joint conference attracted the most media attention among all KAEA joint conferences with its partners in Korea because BOK’s governor and/or one or two ministers of economics announced new initiatives in their talks not only for attendees of the conference but also a lot of other Koreans and news media. During this trip, Hong Park visited and met some top executives of the Mail Business Newspaper (MBN) for a possible expansion of cooperation between the KAEA and the MBN. In my opinion, this was a turning point for expanded relations between these two organizations. I could be wrong, but I think that MBN expanded their news coverage for KAEA joint conferences not only in Korea but also in the US. In addition, such expanded cooperation eventually led to the establishment of the Maekyung-KAEA Economist Award (MK Award).
In 2005, Kyoo Hong Kim, professor of economics at Bowling Green State University, was president, while I was president-elect. Around the Summer of 2005, the KAEA received two requests from the MBN through their Washington correspondent: the establishment of the MK Award and the introduction of one or two big shots (i.e., winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences) as speakers in their annual World Knowledge Forum. To my best knowledge, the KAEA unsuccessfully tried to recruit a Nobel Prize Laureate in economics. I am not sure whether the KAEA successfully introduced any other famous economists to the MBN.
I forgot the name of the MBN’s Washington correspondent in 2005 (let’s call him MC). He was a really nice guy, but he had a little short temper, so did I. Negotiations for the establishment of the MK Award had been dragging on up until late November or early December 2005, perhaps because there were too many indirect players behind the two major negotiators—Kyoo Kim and MC. Kyoo Kim was the kind of guy who wanted to make all major decisions on the basis of consensus. I knew that several people raised a number of questions about the MK Award. In addition, MC needed approval about the details of the MK Award from his superiors in Korea.
To tell you the truth, I do not know who—Kyoo Kim or Suk Kim—suggested the transfer of the negotiations to me. Time was running and negotiations were not going well so we had lots of frustrations. At one point MC and I had some sort of shouting match by saying something like follows: “I threatened that the KAEA will end its mutually exclusive relationship with the MBN. MC responded by saying “I do not care whether you guys work with other news media or not. I do not know who said this, “let’s forget the whole …” I am sure that MC will say “it was my fault, while I will say that MC changed his position too many times.
Eventually, we reached an agreement. Whether you believe it or not, I did not consult with anybody until MC and I reached the final agreement and then I informed the deal to other KAEA officers but not KAEA advisory board members. We usually held one or two meetings a few days before the annual conference of the ASSA started. At one meeting where key members of the KAEA attended, I announced the deal, and some attendees were not too happy about the way I managed it, but they were gracious enough to accept my side of the story. The Nominating Committee recommended only one candidate for the MK Award—E. Han Kim at the University of Michigan. One top MBN executive from Korea attended the 2006 annual conference of the ASSA and presented the MK Award to E. Han Kim.
During the second half of 2006, the KAEA appointed the Nominating Committee for the MK Award. The Committee came with two candidates: one in economics and Kee Chung in finance. I knew that Kee Chung had an endowed chair in finance at the State University of New York in Buffalo and published articles in a couple of top finance journals as well as second-tier top finance journals. The candidate in economics published articles in economic journals, but I had no idea about the reputation of those economic journals which published his articles. So I turned over the selection of the finalist to a new MBN’s Washington correspondent called 윤 경호 because MC completed his three appointments and returned to Korea by this time. Yoon recommended Kee Chung as the finalist for the MK Award after he consulted with his colleagues in Korea. No MBN manager from Korea attended the 2007 annual conference of the ASSA so I presented the MK Award to Kee Chung upon Yoon’s request. To my best knowledge, I am the only KAEA president who selected the awardee two times, one in 2005 and another in 2006. Of course, it was not my choice, but unusual circumstances compelled me to do so. Although I will not reveal the identity of another candidate who did not get the award, I still remember the name of the person and the name of his affiliation.
Several weeks before the annual conference of the ASSA, MBN used to give a special topic to the KAEA so that the president and a number of other KAEA members would have a special meeting for the round table discussion on the topic. Their Washington correspondent attended the meeting, took the notes of our discussion, drafted a nice article, and then published it in MBN’s early January edition. I do not know exactly when, but MBN switched this format to a much more prestigious format. MBN (or KAEA on behalf of MBN) invited a famous scholar from a top school who gave a talk to mostly Koreans and Korean Americans. I overheard that this speaker got at least $10,000 for one hour talk.
I organized a session on the North Korean economy in the MBN’s 9th World Knowledge Forum (WKF) held in Seoul, South Korea, on October 14–16, 2008 and took part in the session as its chair as well as a speaker. I tell you that this annual WKF is really a big deal. The official language of the forum is English. It may be possible that one KAEA president or anyone person may be able to organize one session only once. If the KAEA is allowed to organize a session in every annual forum on a long-term basis, it will move the KAEA to another level. If this is going to happen, the KAEA will have to recruit a really big shot as the major speaker of its session year after year. Because the president of the KAEA changes every year, it will be better for the KAEA to form a standing committee for this purpose if the KAEA is serious about this project on a sustainable basis. I think that the KAEA has some leverage over the MBN because the KAEA has done just about everything they requested on an exclusive basis.
Here is how MBN allowed me to organize a session about the North Korean economy at their 9th annual forum. I had written down the details of the whole session before I contacted them: the name of the session, the description of the session, potential speakers with their resumes, and others. I also felt that I should sell myself as a credible person for the project to MBN. By this time, I published one North Korean research monograph (North Korea at a Crossroads in 2003) and had been the founder-editor of North Korean Review (a biannual journal) for a couple of years since 2005, so I happened to know a number of top American scholars about North Korea. The major speaker of the session was an American scholar who had been widely known to North Korean watchers in Korea and MBN translated this speaker’s book on the North Korean economy into Korean. He was on the editorial review board of the North Korean Review I edited.
If you like to play golf with me and my friends when you visit Michigan for your personal and/or professional purposes, please send me a text in advance at 1 248 826 8353. Best wishes for whatever you do for the best interest of the KAEA.
Rhonda Herman, the Publisher of North Korean Review, and Suk Hi Kim, the Founding Editor of North Korean Review at Chicago on January 6, 2007, when the American Economic Association held its 2007 Annual Conference.
Suk Kim, Professor of Finance
College of Business Administration
University of Detroit Mercy
4001 W. McNichols Rd
Detroit, MI 48221
private email. Stevekim1942@gamil.com
Caveat: I am almost certain that some portions of this letter are not accurate and/or outdated.