Eugene Cho

why aren’t we drawn to dong yun yoon?


As some of you know, I posted the story yesterday about the unfathomable and tragic story of Dong Yun Yoon and his family  [English name: Don Yoon] who were killed when an F/A-18 jet crashed into his home.  Don, 37, was at work at his cafe when he heard the crash.  His wife, two young babies [15 months and 2 months], and his mother-in-law were killed.  Unfathomable.

But throughout the day yesterday, I kept wondering to myself why Don’s tragedy and story wasn’t picked up more by the media and the larger blogosphere – especially the Christian blogosphere.  Now, I know that media outlets have covered the story but honestly, I was just surprised at the minimal coverage in light of the initial big news of the crash on Monday.  From an “American” perspective, wasn’t his statement about the pilot as 

“one of our treasures, for the country, and I … don’t blame him. I don’t have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could.”

an example of exemplary patriotism and courage?   In a country divided over issues and politics, hasn’t Dong Yun Yoon exemplified something that all of us can regard with high respect?

Out of curiousity, I checked GoogleTrends to see where he registered in their top searches and I had to look over the list several times because I thought I missed his name.  He didn’t even make GoogleTrends Top 100 searches yesterday while things like ‘KFC Bath’, ‘Raja Bell’, and ‘Snow in Houston’ were listed.

And here’s another thing that got me thinking.  Dong Yun Yoon’s faith in Christ was very apparent even in the midst of this tragedy when he asked people to pray for the surviving pilot.  He gathered with his family, some members of his church and small group, and his pastor at the site of the accident.  They held  hands, wept, and prayed.  He spoke to the media and basically, gave a profound, genuine, and substantive witness to Christ.  It was deeply powerful, emotional and authentic but in my guesstimation, there was hardly a whimper in the Christian blogosphere. 

So, I have to ask: Why?  I know. I know. I risk the provocation of emails and the dreadful label of “Eugene is just an angry Asian man.” 

But seriously, Why?  What do you think?

I have three guesses:

Celebrity Infatuation?  He’s an average dude.  Maybe Christians are like the larger culture and are predominantly drawn to celebrities and quasi-gossip surrounding the big figures of Western Christendom.  When the tragic news of Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter hit the wire, the blogosphere went burning wild.  Understandable and in my opinion, rightfully so, since he’s such a notable figure.  So, while we share such stories, maybe we should be similarly drawn and elevating the faith stories of the “average person.”

He’s not American?  His name doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue.  Dong Yun Yoon is not your typical household name.  In couple articles I glanced through yesterday, I was pretty discouraged by the tones of this accident being a deep tragedy in the Korean community.  It’s certainly true since Dong Yun Yoon was born in Korea and in the States, the KA Community  is a ‘small world’ but everyone listen carefully:  Dong Yun Yoon is an AMERICAN CITIZEN.  This is a tragedy for the entire city of San Diego and the larger country.  An American fighter jet crashes into a home and kills an entire family spanning three generations – leaving Dong Yun Yoon alone. 

He doesn’t look American?    To be blunt, is it because he has slanted Asian eyes?  He’s Asian which means he doens’t look like your prototypical male “American” man.  He’s an immigrant [1989].  He spoke with an accent and with the occasional awkward syntax.   The people standing around him all were Asian.  When I glanced over the Christian blogosphere to see if folks were writing about this tragic but compelling story of faith, there wasn’t much outside Asian bloggers. 

Perhaps there’s a fourth reason:

Maybe we just don’t care that much and I should just leave it at that.

Filed under: faith, family, , , ,

58 Responses

  1. F.Quinlan says:

    What can one say. All I can offer is my deep condolences to Dong Yun Yon. Perhaps with the development of a greater level of human philosophy, such people wiil receive more support. Fergus. Republic of Ireland

  2. It’s good of you to raise this question. I wish I knew the answer.

    It seems like so many of the people and tragedies that capture the national attention have some element of uniqueness to them. Or they are stories that lead us to hope for ourselves or for the person in question. I think nobody’s running this story because this man is not unique – he could be any of us. And his story isn’t like a murder trial where the verdict could go either way – he’s already lost everything.

    It seems to me that his story cuts quickly to our greatest fears and our too-familiar wounds. It’s tough to polish it up for a tabloid cover or an editorial. They say that sex sells. Not so much for mind-numbing tragedy.

    I hope I have the grace and soul that this man has if something so horrible ever happens to me.

  3. ja says:

    The news media, entertainment tonight, access hollywood, etc, would be turning him into a media personality and wringing tears over his tragedy – If he were white and telegenic,

  4. Maybe you have different news in Seattle but the whole forgiveness angle and graciousness of Dong Yun Yoon has been all over the news out here — CNN, CNN International, Fox, local…

    Sometimes trying to add anything only detracts. He spoke so well and so graciously — incredible witness. It’s almost like when you see a great artist perform — and you know that to say anything about it in those brief moments following the awesome performance will sound stupid or trite — no matter what you say. Give people a few minutes to catch their breath on this one. He hasn’t gone unnoticed.

    I checked a half hour ago and there were 8,500 blog entries. I rechecked a minute ago and the number had jumped to nearly 9,400 on the Google blog search. There will be more.

    There is definitely prejudice against Asians out there. My sense, though, is that this is not an example of such. I could be wrong but I hope not.

  5. ransom33 says:

    Thank you Eugene for reminding us this morning of this news. I have to be perfectly honest and say I had not even heard about this. I don’t live in the States and the other reason is probably the fact that I have been busy in these last couple of days raising awareness about a different kind of tragedy taking place in Nigeria and other parts of the world, where children are being labelled as witches and being tortured and murdered for it.

    There is so much tragedy and evil in the world, it is impossible and way too overwhelming to try and cover it all in our media, conversations and prayers. But one thing is clear, the Spirit of God is alive and well in the hearts and minds of many Christians around the world, who like Dong Yun Yon, have risen above their circumstances, and found it in their hearts to forgive those who have inflicted pain and hurt upon them. We all know that that requires supernatural strength, and that man has it in abundance. God bless Him and those who are broken-hearted as a result of what happened, and praise God for burdening the Body of Christ with the things that also burden Him.

    Thank you for this post and God bless you,

    ransom33 @

  6. Daniel Azuma says:

    Pastor E, while I agree with Danger, that it is good of you to raise this question, I think we ought to be careful of the answer, which I think is simpler than we expect.

    I think all of us, pretty much without exception, feel deeply for what has taken place in San Diego, and we can certainly admire what little we can see of Mr. Yoon’s faith and patriotism (from a short sound bite). However, the fact is that this is one tragedy out of a hundred that have taken place this week. It seems to me that the amount of attention that has been directed to this particular story has been at an appropriate level given the scope of what has taken place.

    To compare him to Steven Curtis Chapman is to compare apples and oranges. SCC is a public figure by choice and by virtue of his vocation. Dong Yoon is not. And to chalk it up to some sort of racial bias is, I think, to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    To take it one step further: Honestly, if I were in Mr. Yoon’s shoes, at this stage of the grieving process, I wouldn’t *want* a lot of media attention, spiritual punditry, or hero worship, directed at me. We should of course join him in prayer. Those who are close to him and his family will support him in additional ways. But maybe the rest of us ought to leave him alone for now, lest we fall into the trap of using him and his tragedy for our own spiritual, business, political, or ethnic agendas. Let’s not hollywoodize his story until and unless he invites us to do so.

  7. Peter Adams says:

    Eugene, as you say, this is a story that deserves to be told in the Christian blog world. This is an part of what I just wrote:

    I am neither American nor Korea (though I am privileged to have an American Korean daughter in law!) and I live far away in England. But Dong Yun Yoon’s story of forgiveness and grace worked out in the life of someone in terrible loss and grief touches me deeply. …

    While I am not an American my suspicion its a good bit of all the things that Eugene suggests, plus a whole lot of “forgiveness isn’t sexy.” I host a blog that focuses on peace and reconciliation. And more importantly perhaps its my work. And I know that Christians would far rather rant about other things. Yet the reality is, forgiveness unleashes grace and a force that can change the world. And there I stop, lest this turns into a rant, and distracts from the story of forgiveness and grace at work.

  8. Shaun King says:

    You answered the question well Eugene. I wish that it wasn’t the case.

    A similar issue has been made of kidnapping and murder victims in the Black community. Here in Atlanta, a beautiful young African American woman went missing and it got almost ZERO press coverage. The disparity in coverage (which fuels interest) really upset a lot of us here in Atlanta because non-stop coverage is often given to beautiful, young (white) kidnapping victims.

    Like you, I love our country, but these things still need improving.

  9. aaron says:


    i think i echo Brad’s reflections above; at least i am choosing to believe that right now.

    i don’t have anything else to say about this completely devastating event that is, i seem to be in the minority to be saying, testing my faith. others in your previous post offered not a few anecdotes about God’s sovereignty, etc. i simply can’t believe this happened.

    i have a few days left in the semester before i add a couple of posts to my own family blog. rest assured that this man’s story will be repeated on my blog. thank you for raising these important questions and observations. there are many reasons why we love this country, but also many reasons to be gravely concerned.

  10. I think you hit on the main issues here – a combination of his non-celebrity and color of skin. The murders/deaths of white people make the news, but unless you are a celebrity like Jennifer Hudson tragedy of the non-white gets little coverage.

    I do have to wonder though if some of the lack of response by the media can be attributed to the fact that there is nothing anyone can do about this tragedy. There is no one to hunt down, no system to be blamed and reformed, no call to end oppression… we are just left feeling impotent in the face of tragedy and that is a very uncomfortable place for most of us.

  11. Donna says:

    Eugene, I have no ready answers for why & where the media chooses to place their focus. The tragedy suffered by Mr. Yoon hurts & affects me as deeply as death of Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter. Mr. Yoon will remain in my prayers. I am still in awe of his strong faith – he is a remarkable man.

  12. Cody says:

    I wept over this story yesterday. I remember hearing about the crash on the news as I walked out the door one morning, but I had not heard about Dong Yun Yoon until I read your post yesterday. I am preaching over the “I am the true vine” passage in John on Sunday, and Dong Yun Yoon will be the example I will you use for “bear much fruit.” What he said and did is the example to me of the fruit that Jesus is talking about.

  13. Steven Kim says:

    I believe many have heard this tragic news, and would like to believe that many are quietly grieving with Mr. Yoon. Not everybody is as expressive (at least not in written words) when it comes to sharing thoughts and feelings. And, I am quite certain that pastors throughout the U.S. and abroad will somehow expound on Mr. Yoon’s faith in light of an unfathomable tragedy come this Sunday.

    I believe what Mr.Yoon needs is our prayers, not media coverage. At the same time, blogs such as yours are invaluable in that you challenge all of us to go deeper into discovering or understanding the psyche our society at large while giving us “expressive” people the outlet and a need to share. I hope, however, that the exercise of expression here or other blogs does not translate to mean that we care more than those who choose to be “quiet.”

    I would certainly would like to stay away from anything that speaks of racisim or other ills of society. Personally, I am not as cynical.

  14. shwoodruff says:

    On the exact opposite corner of the US from you, I heard amazing things about Mr. Yoon yesterday. On conservative talk radio that is often a bit more judgmental (okay, a LOT more judgmental) that I would like, I heard people heralding Mr. Yoon’s grace as truly inspiring, noble, and humbling. I even heard these radio hosts confessing that Mr. Yoon turned all of their stereotypes of immigrants upside down. Their ability to admit this was probably a miracle in itself.

    It is a shame that Mr. Yoon shared our media’s focus with corrupt Illinois politicians and a failing economy, and my hope is that any failure on our part to give proper attention to this tragedy is simply because of this. I hope…I hope…

  15. eugenecho says:

    @brad: funny. i had dinner last night with a new family at quest who had just moved from guam. they’re taiwanese and talked about how much they missed guam.

    maybe you’re right and maybe i should be reading different blogs.

    i think the media has done what they could to cover the story. but as a follower of christ, i would have expected more of a response from the larger christian community – especially here in the States. but like i said, maybe i’ve just missed it.

  16. Samuel Lee says:

    It is an extreme tragedy to Mr. Dong and I believe his response should have gotten a lot more attention than what it received.

    I felt in some ways it was a different type of prejudice that America might have developed over the last several decades. Where I wonder if America’s specific ignorance to the Asian-American culture/identity have turned to indifference. Where we (I am a Korean-American / citizen) have become a “3rd race”.

    It could be partially due to America’s subconscious response to Asian-Americans (especially Koreans) culture of exclusivity. who knows…

    However, I do feel part of the reason why Mr. Dong’s tragedy and response to it is not getting the attention it deserves is because of the prejudice and indifference in the heart of some Americans.
    To me… it is a quite, yet real discrimination, void of emotions.

  17. rjr says:

    I think that there are a variety of reasons why this story isn’t receiving as much coverage as other stories. While race may, unfortunately, be one of the reasons, I don’t think that it is nearly as big of a factor as you may believe.

    As others have mentioned, this is a situation where there really is noone to blame. Sure, we could blame the pilot, but then we would show ourselves to be ungrateful for the grace that Mr. Yoon so clearly professes.

    Additionally, as Jack said, this story is too close to our greatest fears. It’s tough to write/think about things that remind us that we are not in control, and you should at least consider that the lack of press/blog coverage may reflect more on our weakness as humans than on the way we feel about Mr. Yoon.

    I agree that race is sometimes and issue with respect to the amount of news coverage that events like this recieve. Though I am Canadian and have not been a witness to what seems like a national struggle to free a collectively guilty conscience, I have seen/felt firsthand how racial tension can rear it’s ugly head. But that said, I am wondering if perhaps you have failed to see this situation through the eyes of grace.

    Racism is a problem, but I prefer not to believe that the death of a man’s family should be an occasion to see a racial conflict. The arguments that you have used can also be used to describe the Woerlen family tragedy. A caucasian man lost his wife, seven children and an unborn child in a fire – and aside from two news articles, there is precious little information available about this tragedy. I know they’re Canadian, but this story still made the New York Times – why was this ignored?

    I have no answer to that question other than the thoughts I’ve given above. As Brad put it, we may not react visibly to events like these because sometimes trying to add anything only detracts. He spoke so well and so graciously, and anything we might say/write about it in those brief moments following the awesome performance will sound stupid or trite. As for me, I know that I have blogged about Mr. Yoon. His strength is a testament to the Spirit, and an encouragement to my soul. May God grant him peace.

  18. Erika Haub says:

    I was going to make a similar comment to Julie’s: I have yet to read/see/hear any media coverage for any of the killings in my neighborhood in the past six years, or of the acts of heroism and patriotism of immigrants on my streets.

  19. Dadofiandi says:

    I can only speak for myself and I still hesitate to write this. I saw a news clip in passing that a baby was found in the fire, I kept walking, I really didn’t want to hear about death esp with a child involved. I only became interested after finding out he was Korean and then I didn’t watch the press conference or coverage as well because I didn’t want to have to deal with the emotions it would stir.
    But like Shaun King mentioned the kidnapping in ATL received very little coverage, gang violence in LA and in general only gets coverage when it involves white victims, esp if they are attractive.
    Also controversy is more attractive as attested by your posts that don’t seem to end (via comments).
    What I know is from reading your blog, which I was surprised to find was being linked to for a perspective on Mr. Yoon – I too thought it would be written on by more.

    However here is where my hesitancy comes in and may be why some also haven’t commented.

    While his faith is amazing are we putting too much into his display of faith? I can not believe he will not have periods of great despair and anger at God, the pilot etc. I am afraid he will be made up to be a pillar of faith and not be allowed to be human.

    flame away.

  20. chad m says:

    i think the same thing as i read the New York Times headlines. i see words: Afghanistan; Darfur; Obama; Iraq…i think in my mind, “another story about THAT.” i’m just being honest. we hardly pay attention to wars and genocides in our world, why would we pay attention to this story? that’s me being brutally honest.

    however, i look at this tragic story and thought about your post yesterday. i was struck by how this man’s life communicates the Gospel and how we might miss it. i was struck by all the stories of Christians practicing grace, offering Christ’s mercy, that we miss because we are bombarded by “junk” stories. pastors should be incorporating this story into sermons this week. i should be incorporating this story in lessons for our youth. want to see what LIVING faith looks like, check this out! grieve with him. pray with him. learn from him.

  21. Sean says:

    I’ve been looking for a way to send a letter to Don Yoon. Anyone been able to find an address?

  22. Aaron says:

    Here are my thoughts:

    I do NOT think it has anything to do with the fact that he is Asian and does not look American. I am sure if he was a celebrity it would get more press, but I don’t think thats the reason it has not been reported on.

    I really think it is because this is a painful story. It is one thing to be told a plane crashed into a house and 3 (I thought it was 5 originally) people have died. It is another thing to put names and faces and ages and stories and tears behind the people… it is tough to watch and its depressing. It is easy to see tragedy and keep it impersonal… but when the tragedies become personal it really is heartbreaking.

    I think another part of it is that the media is caught up in things people are worried about. People will watch every move the government makes in regards to the economy, stock market, real estate, auto makers and the war because they are afraid for their future.

    I am not really sure how much or if Mr. Yoon’s response got press at all…. I do find it ironic that his humility did not get much press…. I think if he had come out kicking and screaming, asking for answers, asking the media and senators to question how this could happen…. then it would be all over the news…. its funny to me that radical grace is not newsworthy.

  23. Jeremy says:

    I think it is a fourth thing… the fact that he’s not angry.

    As a society, we have become enamored with drama (see: Ultimate Fighting, WWE, NASCAR wrecks, reality TV, name-your-favorite-celebrity-debacle) and the bigger the “crash” the more we tune in, click on, or shout our adoration. If attorneys, courts, protests, sensational news coverage, or daytime talk shows are involved… all the better. We’ve programmed ourselves to listen to the noisiest, flashiest, and most controversial. Character and content are no longer important… entertainment and voyeuristic observation of human depravity are king.

    Expressions of grace, humility, and foregiveness don’t meet our criteria for interesting. Those who chose to deal with trials silently and within the comfort of friends and faith are overlooked.

    Perhaps they should be. Perhaps we shouldn’t be “captured by the story”. Perhaps God is doing something significant in the lives of only a few people by this story… and the rest of us are just getting wrapped up on media voyeurism.

    Then again, maybe there is something very real we should all be learning in the lack of attention being shown this tragedy. What does it say about us?

  24. benjamin says:

    “I think if he had come out kicking and screaming, asking for answers, asking the media and senators to question how this could happen…. then it would be all over the news…. its funny to me that radical grace is not newsworthy.”

    I agree wholeheartedly with Aaron. Bad news tends to “sell” better for news outlets, and Mr. Yoon’s press conference would have gotten a lot more from them if it was negative. Instead his remarks slid the whole story back down to the attention level that most feel good and hero stories tend to sit at: there today and forgotten tomorrow (at least by the cameras and microphones).

    I do think, though, that we should see some kind of spike of general interest on Sunday evening/Monday morning. At least I hope so: Mr. Yoon’s remarks (and the support of his church in this terrible time) bear powerful witness to Jesus Christ.

  25. vance lee says:

    I am going to approach this from a very different view, it was an initial reaction to PE’s post. There are a lot of angles to everything and they are all valid.

    First of all I totally agree with what you are saying, the so called weaker members of the body don’t get their recognition as Christ intended – 1cor 12:22/23. But what is best for don yun yoon? Christ intended our good works to be done in private. Also don YY doesn’t need media attention now, he needs counciling and humble fellowship. For those who remember the rescuing of baby m, who had fallen down a well? The paramedic robert O’Donnell was thrust into instant fame and the PTS that he suffered took his life. Interesting articles on the untreatment of PTS among rescue workers.,,179212,00.html

  26. DK says:

    Why do you ask a question you already know the answer to?

  27. vanceseattle1957 says:

    my comments seem a little sharp in disagreement and in the future i will try a little more tact.

  28. Matt K says:

    I don’t have cable, so I haven’t seen the national news. The local news (here in Chicago) has been the Rod Blagojovech sideshow for the past 48 hours, and on top of that I think everyday has different economic news grabbing up the headlines.

    But I will echo that I haven’t read too much about it in the Christian blogs I read, but that could possibly a small sample. I’d be interested in hearing from people next week if the story doesn’t show up in some pulpits this Sunday.

  29. Sam says:

    I live in San Diego, just a few miles from where the jet crashed. The story has received lots of coverage here. I first heard about it from my neighbor on the driveway. As she told me, a military jet screamed directly over us. We’re all kind of concerned one may end up in our house.

    Locally the story certainly received plenty of coverage. If the surviving father was nationally known, perhaps the story would have received more national coverage. In this area we regularly have news of Mexican border crossers who die in the hot deserts or get killed running across a freeway. Recently, there have been murders by the dozen just across the border in Tijuana. Those kinds of stories are so commonplace here (sometimes the victims names are not even mentioned in the news accounts) that I was actually surprised that don yun yoon’s story got so much coverage. Perhaps it is the “this could happen to anyone” dimension to the story that generated so much news here in San Diego.

    This is a community of many ethnicities, with a strong Asian presence. However, the news accounts I have seen and heard did not appear to be biased for or against the story or the family because of their ethnicity, or faith, for that matter. Faith statements in the midst of tragedy are not unusual here, and by themselves are not considered big news in the secular media.

  30. Fitz says:

    FWIW, I asked the same question myself today:

    I basically concluded that we talk a lot about being Christian, but we aren’t really all that interested in what Christ really had to say. Faith is largely no longer an end in of itself, but just another stick to whack each other with.

    Think about it, when polled, self described “strongly pro-life Christians” are most likely to describe the poor as “lazy” and immigrants as a “significant cause of moral decay”. Yet, Christ directly challenged the widely held belief that sickness and poverty were a reflection of God’s displeasure. We are even told to be poor in spirit. “Gospel” is from “Good News”, as in ‘good news to the poor’. And the parables frequently used hated and mistrusted foreigners as examples of good. All that talk about welcoming the stranger is a direct challenge to the nationalistic and xenophobic world view of the Pharisees.

    We like the Christian label, and we like passing judgement on others, but when push comes to shove, we aren’t all that interested in what the Faith has to say. If this were a Hollywood blockbuster, Yoon would dress like Rambo and seek violent revenge on the pilot and mechanics, killing lots of civilians in a car chase along the way.

    As a society, we value wealth and success, not the virtues that Yoon is demonstrating. For all the talk about being Christian voices, we are, by and large, not all that far removed from society as a whole. Most of our ‘dialog’ is about labeling and judging others, something else we are expressly warned about by Christ…

    And, to be clear, I am just as guilty. I have no shortage of unworthiness to call to mind each week at Mass. It just happens that, in this case, Yoon’s actions really reasonate for me.

  31. […] aren’t we drawn to Dong Yun Moon?” December 11, 2008 Eugene Cho thinks it strange that so little attention has been given to the case of Dong Yun Moon, whose family was killed when […]

  32. Mark Gordon says:

    I blogged on Don Yoon yesterday, with your post as my entry into the story. My entry is HERE. I’ve been surprised that in the 24 hours since, no one has commented on the post at all. No one! I really don’t think it has anything to do with Yoon’s Asian background at all, nor with the fact that he’s an immigrant. In fact, those aspects of the story didn’t even occur to me until I read your post today. I think your final possible reason is, sadly, the right one: we just don’t care.

    What a pity for people to waste such a precious and profound example of Christian humility, love and forgiveness.

  33. Dadofiandi says:

    @ Vance Lee That is one of the things I thought about the hero/survivor guilt, PTSD. I understand you posting it as a question as well.

  34. CowboyBob says:


    It is a tragedy for Don Yoon. It is an exemplary response of forgiveness. But I think your fourth reason is unfortunately the closest to reality. (Though I suspect the real reason is that, while tragic, this was an accident. Tragedies with intent tend to attract deeper public attention.)

    I’m wondering though why you had to play the race card here? I’m an Asian American, and the thought never occured to me that the lack of publicity had something to do with race.

    Do you remember the Amish shooting incident in Oct 2006? I think that was an equally if not more powerful example of forgiveness. Unlike in Don’s situation where the pilot didn’t intend for his actions to kill, the shooter in the Amish rampage clearly intended to kill– and yet the Amish families offered their forgiveness and prayers. (Not to take away from what Don Yoon did, because his offer of forgiveness is extraordinary– I doubt I could do the same.)

    I bring this up to turn the “why aren’t we drawn” question on you. When the Amish shooting happened, did you blog about it with the same passion and intensity you felt for Don? Or were you not as drawn to it because they *don’t* have “slanted Asian eyes”?

    Don’s situation is one of tragedy and amazing forgiveness. No need to use it to cry wolf about racism and diminish when racism really happens.

  35. remi a says:

    I stumbled onto your blog while browsing for more information about this story. I’ve been very moved by Dong Yun Yoon’s story. Unfortunately, your three guesses , to varying degrees, probably contributed to the lack of media coverage and the whole Blagojevich scandal simply sealed the deal. With that said, the fact is Dong Yun Yoon’s tragedy has made an impression on quite a number of people otherwise we wouldnt be discussing it. For those who want to send a letter here’s Dong’s church address:

    Dong Yun Yoon
    c/o Rev. Kevin Lee
    Korean United Methodist Church
    3520 Mount Acadia Blvd
    San Diego, CA 92111

    I found it here:

  36. rob says:

    maybe it’s because i’m in california, or maybe it’s because the korean american community is fairly large in los angeles, but the coverage has been pretty thorough here. i’ve seen it on every major network including on cable.

  37. Oliver Jen says:

    I agree with all the points you made and the ones about bad news selling better. Some more that I’m just throwing out there…

    1. I think something like this is hard to measure in metrics like search hits. If I spent all day thinking about Mr Yoon or just wrote a check to him/his church, it doesn’t get quantified as keyword that does gets web-searched.

    2. Sort of like the whole “he’s an Asian/not American” thing, but in some cases you may just not immediately see/have the common ground to relate. Animal abuse had an entirely different significance to me after I owned I dog. And some folks may have never experienced anything close to the same type of loss so you’re not sure where to begin or how to empathize. I see stories all the time of African women who are raped and tortured and seen their family members all killed, and yet they work to help orphans or only wish to have an education. I’m amazed, but not viscerally moved…in part b/c I just can’t even imagine.

    3. Everyone’s got their own problems. And maybe folks do care, but they got more immediate fish in front of them to fry. Like losing their jobs, or how they’re going to stay in their homes or whatever…

    4. I don’t say this pejoratively, but I honestly don’t think Christians are that much different in nature than non-Christians. We’re just as flawed and have just as much capacity for cruel or heartless or ugly things as anyone else. We just know it’s wrong and why it’s wrong, but it isn’t in our frontal lobes 24×7.

    Don’t know if any of that holds water, just tossed it out there to see if it holds water…

  38. Sean Nelson says:

    Eugene… I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t even hear about it. Thank you for bringing this the much needed attention that it deserves.

  39. Jim Chen says:

    Thanks remi a for the address!

    Maybe people don’t know what to think of Mr. Yoon’s response. It is so radically different from how most people would react.

  40. cindy lowe says:

    reason #1…

    I don’t usually hear these types of stories go wild on the blogosphere at all unless they’re about a celeb.

  41. Alissa says:

    I hadn’t heard of this at all, but I think I’m going to have to go with the “he’s not a celeb” reason. Although his not so American name I’m sure has a lot to do with it, because there are times when an average person will be affected by tragedy and they get loads of coverage for years. Maybe the fact that he was so kind and…I don’t know a good word to describe his reaction…but he wasn’t angry or bitter, and so there was no promise of drama. And, sadly, news coverage depends on the potential of the story to provide new and interesting headlines.

  42. […] As Eugene Cho notes, the silence in the Christian blogosphere about Dong Yun’s Christ-like response has been disappointing, if not deafening.  I have been encouraged, though, to hear the empathetic words of the Yoon family’s non-Korean American neighbors, describing them as hard-working and sweet, and even seeing Dong Yun kiss his family that very morning as he left for work.  While San Diego is a beautiful place to live, there is a strong undercurrent of racial tension, so it is particularly moving to see the broader community rally around this family in some ways. […]

  43. eugenecho says:

    from the church website:

    Tragedy in Our Community

    On Monday December 8, 2008 Dong Yun Yoon (member of the Korean United Methodist Church of San Diego) lost four of his family members in the recent F/A-18D jet crash in San Diego.

    We will dearly miss his wife Young Mi, daughter Grace (15 month), Rachel (1 month), and Young Mi’s mother Mrs. Suk Im Kim.

    A Trust Fund has now been created and your donations for the Yoon family can be directed to:

    Dong Yoon # 200-717-333, SD Hanmi Bank

    If you are unable to find a Hanmi Bank in your area, you can mail your donations to the Korean United Methodist Church at

    3520 Mt. Acadia Blvd. San Diego, CA 92111

    Place: Glen Abbey Memorial Park & Mortuary
    Address: 3838 Bonita Rd. Bonita, CA 91902

    Friday December 12 ~ Public viewing 5 – 9 PM (Little Lodge)
    Saturday December 13 ~ Burial Service 1 PM (Chapel of Roses)

    Thank You

  44. Woggz says:

    I have a suggestion..perhaps HEGEMONY is a reason why American media chooses not to put this story into the media. Which also goes with all that you have stated above.

  45. Deborah Cook says:

    I am an older white woman living in San Diego and I continue to be drawn to this story. I know there is a lesson in it for me when I witness this man’s bravery in the face of such tragedy and marvel at his forgiving nature.

  46. eugenecho says:

    thanks everybody for your thoughtful contribution to the conversation.

    it’s always fascinating to see how people to respond to questions about race and racialization. but let me point out that by bringing up this conversation, i’m not suggesting that You or Others or People that Haven’t Done Anything are RACISTS. i’m simply suggesting we take time to examine our worldview and how we see the world.

    from the Church’s perspective, i find it incredibly intriguing that we have a fellow brother in Christ that has done one of the most incredible things. the incident with the Amish community and this story – for me – is one of the great “sermons” i will ever hear in my life. it is not derived from books, behind some fancy theology, a church office, or behind a pastor’s blog, but rather, a life and faith lesson that derives from an authentic engagement with LIFE.

    for the CHURCH to miss this would be a great loss to the body of christ. true, web searches isn’t a true indication but if you think that christians have gotten hold of this story, that’s great. i don’t think so which then has to make me ask the original question: “Why?”

  47. Jana says:

    Well we cared. Me and my two daugters mailed cards, a Christian CD, and 25$ to Brother Yoon the day we read the story. We googled the church in San Diego and mailed it there. I hope he gets it! We pray he does. My heart immediately went out to him and my spirit witnessed he was a Christian by his words. Lets all pray for him!

  48. Michele Chontos says:

    It’s impossible to Google information when property of the US Government is at fault.

    Maybe there is not a lot of coverage because our government is at fault and would rather not take responsibility for the tragedy….yet. They are fully responsible; however, they have to investigate the matter further. I noticed that a lot of “extra” coverage of the crash was immediately erased from the internet within 48 hours after the incident. That doesn’t surprise me because when the government wants to hide something they can do it in any way, shape or form. Even when that means sweeping/erasing all forms of media information “under a carpet” so that you and I forget about it. Their equipment (plane) is to blame. And don’t expect to hear the truth if they ever come around to making up some excuse for what happened.

    As a Christian I care. I sent him a check. But even weeks later, information is limited on the internet and news because it’s another “hush it from the public” issue from our government.

    The man who videotaped the pilot on the ground with his cell phone…not surprising, but that coverage on the internet is “magically erased,” and along with that our blogs our messages and anything else. After all, eminent domain says the government can and will take anything from us.

    I repeat. It’s not that we don’t care enough. Information is being deleted. I wouldn’t be surprised if this message gets deleted .

    Michele from Virginia Beach

  49. Mark says:

    I attended Crosswalk Community Church in Sunnyvale, CA for their Christmas Eve Service. The pastor preached from Philippians 2:5-11, he spoke about Christ’s choice to humble Himself in coming as a man, choosing into suffering and following that He was vindicated, etc. He encouraged the congregation in these economically tumultuous times that if we are humbled, to trust that God will vindicate us and be with us.

    His main sermon illustration was Dong Yun Yoon, and his godly and faithful response to all the suffering he has incurred. He has been humbled, but as we all know, he has responded with awesome faith and God will lift him up. We don’t know if that will happen in this life, or the next, but God will honor Dong Yun Moon for his humble trust in God in this time.

    Crosswalk is a majority white church, and the pastor who gave the sermon was white too, so here at least was one congregation that did not fail to honor and draw attention to Dong Yun Yoon.

  50. Cheryl says:

    I believe if you were to look at all the media coverage in newspapers and on all the different local, national, and cable stations over the few days after the crash, you would see that this tragic story did get an equal amount of coverage compared to other tragic events that happen to average citizens of any nationality. My friends and family from all over the US were talking and e-mailing about it almost from the moment the crash happened, so they all heard about it on their local media shortly after the crash. We all prayed for, and continue to pray for, Mr. Yoon, his other surviving family members, and the pilot. To say that the media didn’t give this story enough coverage because Mr. Yoon and family are Korean seems very shallow and not very Christian-like.

  51. eugenecho says:

    @Cheryl: you are right that it may be shallow that race and identity had something to do with the possibility of mr. yoon not receiving much media or people attention. it’s shallow if it’s wrong.

    but what would it be then if it was true?

    it would be sinful. i’d rather err on shallow than sinful.

  52. Kathy says:

    I, too, am surprised that Mr. Yoon did not receive more attention from the media. However, when I heard of this tragedy, I emailed my friends in my town and got a collection together for him. I received so many wonderful emails knowing that he was going to be in their prayers. I also received some money from my friends and I sent it to his church. We should all look to him for his incredible courage, strength and his faith in our Lord. His story resembles Job from the Bible and Mr. Yoon will come out of this stronger than ever before. You remain in my prayers, Mr. Yoon! -From the friends in Corrales, New Mexico

  53. AnnSanDiego says:

    My theory behind the lack of coverage is because it was a military-based incident. Had it been a commercial airline there would have been intense media coverage. Also, I believe the reason behind the minimal media coverage is due to the fact that the tragedy could have been averted based on the ample opportunity the pilot had to land the aircraft. Maybe race played a role in the lack of coverage but frankly this whole story wreaks of military cover-up.

  54. Jason says:

    You have brought up an excellent point. It is rare that a peaceful military accident kills unsuspecting civilians. And yet very little attention was brought to the family or the survivors… who they were or how they were coping. It seems just the sensational aspect of the story really ever made it into the media. As an artist who just recently did research on this event for a drawing I am working on, it took me quite a while to even find Dong yun Yoon’s name mentioned in an article. In some cases the family was simply described as an “immigrant family” while in others it was described as ” a Korean family” with no mention of the names of the family who passed away or survived. This has been in stark contrast to some of the other incidents I have done research on. I hope Dong is doing well. I just watched the press conference again, my heart aches for him every time I’ve viewed it.

  55. yon yun says:

    56 million!!
    He’s a pathetic hypocrite!

    How will this help him?

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One Day’s Wages

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It. Still. Hurts.
#TamirRice Incredible news: @onedayswages is projecting to have our most impactful year as we grant out $1.3 million dollars! Thank you so much for your prayers and support...please read on to learn how you can join in our work.

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones for Thanksgiving and the holidays, I wanted to share an opportunity. Often times, when I speak to people about the privilege of generosity, I remind them, "You don't have to but you get to." It's so true.

My wife and I (and our three kids) started ODW in 2009. We felt the Holy Spirit convicting us to give up our year's salary. It wasn't an easy thing to say "Yes" or "Amen" to but we made the decision to obey. As a result, it took us about three years to save, simplify, and sell off things we didn't need.

It's been an incredible journey as we've learned so much about the heart of God and God's love for the hurting and vulnerable around the world - particularly those living in extreme poverty. ODW is a small, scrappy, grassroots organization (with just 3 full-time employees) but since our launch, we've raised nearly $6 million dollars to help those living in extreme poverty: clean water and sanitation, education, maternal health, human trafficking, refugee crisis, hunger, and the list goes on and on.

So, here's my humble ask: As we do this work, would you consider making a pledge to support our that we can keep doing this work with integrity and excellence?
You can make a one time gift or make monthly pledge of just $25 (or more). Thanks so much for considering this: (link in bio, too) Don't just count your blessings. Bless others with your blessings. Here, there, everywhere. Be a blessing for this blesses our Father in Heaven and builds the Kingdom of God.

#ReThinkRegugees #WeWelcomeRefugees
@onedayswages Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply.

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