HUNTINGTON – Chong Kim has a philosophy about people. The choices they make and the way the live their lives often land them in one of three categories. A person can become a necessity, a commoner or a parasite.
At his taekwondo school, which he opened in Huntington more than 30 years ago, he teaches students not only Korean martial arts techniques, self defense and confidence, but also the traits that help them each become a necessity to those around them, including respect, hard work and discipline.
And he’s maintaining the standard for himself, even in retirement. Kim, who retired as dean of Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business in 2012, has continued to be as much a necessity as ever in the five years since.
Not only has he continued running his taekwondo school, teaching a class in organizational behavior at Marshall and serving on boards of local organizations, he’s taken his knowledge and skill set abroad.
He and his wife of almost 49 years, Choon Kim, returned to Korea in 2012, where he spent a year and a half as a visiting professor at Solbridge International School of Business at Woosong University in Daejeong.
Kim was raised in Korea, as was his wife. He was one of six children and the son of a successful businessman. His father was a controller for a trading company. After serving in the Korean army, Kim planned to study in the United States and return to Korea to work in business. But life turned out differently, and his visiting professorship from 2012-2014 was the first time he truly got to join the working world in his homeland.
He’s grateful for the experience, though he said 1 1/2 years was enough.
“I wanted to come back and see my children and grandchildren,” said Kim, father of a grown son and daughter and grandfather to four little boys.
Before long, though, he and Choon were off again, this time on a mission trip to Africa, where he taught taekwondo at the United African University of Tanzania. It was a mission trip they funded themselves, using money that had originally been earmarked for a European Viking Cruise.
“My wife is very devoted and encouraging and said, ‘Let’s go have an adventure,'” Kim said. And an adventure it was. They stayed for one semester, enduring temperatures of 95 degrees or higher each day, with the electricity often on the fritz.
“It was a meaningful experience, but a hard one,” he said.
They eventually got to take their Viking Cruise. And Kim has another international experience coming up, as he will speak as a fellow on his philosophy of being a necessity during the Pan-Pacific Conference, a hallmark event for the Pan-Pacific Business Association, planned in late May in Lima, Peru.
When he’s not traveling in other lands, 75-year-old Kim keeps a steady routine of drinking 32 ounces of water each morning, doing 20 minutes of back exercises and taking a two-mile walk before breakfast. He also plays…