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KEI Spotlight

KEI Honors Toby Dawson, Jim Paek, Jhoon Rhee, and Hines Ward for Outstanding Achievements

January 14, 2015

The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) hosted its eighth annual Korean American Day celebration, a high-level gathering of public and private sector leaders from across the United States on January 13, 2015. On the 112th occasion of the first Korean immigrants arriving in the United States, the Korea Economic Institute of America honored:

Toby Dawson – former Olympic Bronze Medalist and Coach of the Korean National Freestyle Skiing Team

Jim Paek – Three time Stanley Cup winner and Head Coach of the Korean National Hockey Team

Jhoon Rhee – World-renowned Grandmaster, pioneer of American Taekwondo, and named one of the most recognized U.S. immigrants by the U.S. Immigration Office and American Immigrants Forum

Hines Ward – Two-time Super Bowl Champion and MVP of Super Bowl XL

During a panel discussion with Voice of America’s Eunjung Cho, the honorees discussed the importance of hard work, their hopes for the future, and how the Korean-American community can give back to the United States.

All of the honorees overcame great odds to succeed in their chosen sport. Jhoon Rhee noted that he came to the United States at a time when Taekwondo did not have a good reputation and he started his business by serving as the janitor, among other tasks, but was able to build the popularity of Taekwondo in the United States and around the globe. Accepting on Hines Ward’s behalf, childhood friend Andrew Ree noted how Mr. Ward has stressed that hard work beats skill when hard work does not work hard, while Jim Paek stressed the need for passion, practice, and perseverance to succeed.

Having recently taken over coaching roles for their respective national teams in Korea, Toby Dawson and Jim Paek discussed their hopes for the future. Jim Paek said that, “On a hockey level, I would like to see Korean athletes keep developing. To keep growing, to grow this popular sport, this wonderful sport of hockey, to grow it in Korea and to continue to grow in 10, 20, 30 years so that we will be able to compete on the world stage at a very high level.” Similarly, Toby Dawson noted that he would like to see his athletes and a grassroots program develop so that “into the future they will be dominant or at least excelling at that level of sport that at the next Olympic games or World Cup” they can achieve success.

When discussing how the Korean-American community can continue to contribute to the United States, Jhoon Rhee discussed the importance of being honest to help improve society and working diligently. Mr. Dawson expressed his hope that he could help to “bridge the gap between the United States and Korea” and the importance of events that bring together Koreans and Americans. Drawing back on the days theme of sports, Jim Paek noted that athletics provides a safe forum for people of different backgrounds to compete and learn from each other.

Congratulatory remarks were provided by KEI President Donald Manzullo, ROK Ambassador to the U.S. Ahn Ho-Young and Korean War Veteran & Congressman Charles Rangel. Others in attendance included Ambassador Robert King, Ambassador Thomas Hubbard, Virginia Delegate Mark Keam, Herndon Councilmember Grace Han Wolf and former Members of Congress Bob Livingston, Toby Roth, and Connie Morrella. In addition, former Senator George Allen, sponsor of the resolution marking January 13 as Korean American Day, was also in attendance.