Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) released the following statement upon the news that Southern California education philanthropist and business leader Dr. Myung-Ki Hong passed away:
“I’m incredibly saddened by Dr. Myung-Ki Hong’s passing,” Min said. “Dr. Hong was a beloved figure in Southern California and among Korean Americans. He was a community leader who fought to ensure the legacy of Korean independence activist Dosan Ahn Chang-ho; a pioneer in science and business whose scientific innovations helped to create a hugely successful business in Dura Coat Products; and he was a generous philanthropist who made it his life’s mission to support local communities, in particular emphasizing children’s access to education through the M&L Foundation that he co-founded with his wife. Through endowing various programs at local universities, Dr. Hong no doubt changed countless lives funding research, scholarships for disadvantaged and minority students and community-based endeavors.
“I often quote a saying from the ancient Greeks, ‘A civilization is great when its elders plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.’ Dr. Hong’s life work is the embodiment of that saying. Dr. Hong will be deeply missed, but it is my hope that his memory will be long cherished.
“My thoughts are with his family — Michelle Hong and Christine Hong (spouse Joseph O’Wren), his son, David Hong, and his granddaughter, Hanŭl Hong O’Wren, whom he adored.”
Born in Seoul on June 20, 1934, Dr. Hong was the first Korean to obtain his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UCLA in 1959. In 1992, in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Dr. Hong committed himself to promoting community harmony and to ensuring active Korean American participation in the democratic political process. In 2002, Dr. Hong established a philanthropic organization, the Bright World Foundation, which aimed to respond to the growing demands and needs of local communities, later M&L Foundation.
Dr. Hong was deeply committed to honoring his Korean roots, celebrating the transpacific legacy of the Korean American pioneer, Dosan Ahn Chang-ho (1878-1938) through community-based efforts. He also worked with other members of the Korean American community on an almost entirely community-sourced capital campaign to build the Korean American National Museum in Los Angeles.
Funeral services at Loma Linda Korean Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where Dr. Hong was head elder, and Montecito Memorial Park are pending. Guests are requested to be vaccinated and to wear masks.