The VIPP Report: Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month by talking to Olympic Silver Medalist Grandmaster Hwang

Sherlene M. Shanklin

May is Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month.  I spoke to a man who was born in Korea but now calls Louisville his home.
Raising a family and teaching our children the art of Taekwondo.  In today’s Moments that Matter, I introduce you to Jung Oh Grandmaster Hwang.

I have seen the business & community leader many times but this was the first time I had the opportunity to sit down with him.  I had so many questions and he was sincere and patient with me.

Grandmaster Hwang called me before the interview to make sure I found his studio.  I told him I was just waiting outside awaiting my photojournalist to arrive.  The door swings open and he came out to greet me.  He stood out there with me until we were ready to begin. 

As we entered Hwang’s Marital Arts we were welcomed by students.  They were clapping and cheering as we entered the venue.  Once we entered they gave us a demonstration of what they have learned under Hwang.  His daughter Mimi was directing the students but he was off to the side giving additional instruction.    

Mimi led me to his office so we could sit and talk.  I had so many questions.  Some of the most simple questions in Asian culture like is it disrespectful to bow when you don’t know the meaning.  I have to say he was very patient with me to make sure I understood. 

So, when we officially started the interview I asked him to give the pronunciation of his name. 

He says “My name is Jung Oh Hwang”.  He tells me where he was born. “I’m from South Korea. I come to the United States in 1987 I studied at the University of Tennessee.”
When he was in elementary school in South Korea he started learning taekwondo and judo.  Leading him to the Olympics not once but twice.  He missed the opportunity of a third because his country sat out.  Hwang says “Seoul Korea boycotted the Olympic games so he had to wait for more years for his chance to compete. 
1984 changed my life I got a silver medal at that time.” 

Hwang also tells me that he was the international referee for his sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. 

Hwang, his wife Sun and their two year daughter Mimi came to America in 1987. Eventually moving to Louisville and opening three martial arts studios in the city.  He says “Louisville is my hometown.  I love Louisville. Louisville is the best city. I love Louisville.” 

He also loves to teach children the core values of his heritage that we all can relate to regardless of where you are from.  “I wanted to give more opportunity to children to learn respect, discipline, and positive attitude.  He can do, she can do, why not me? Yes I can positive attitude.” 

Grandmaster Hwang believes every person should have the following: Focus, Discipline and Respect this is very very important.
In Asian culture It’s mind and body together. That’s respect.  That’s for all Asians especially Marital Arts.  Giving over a million dollars to charity like the Crusade for Children, and now starting his own foundation.  He just wants to leave a legacy of hope. 

Hwang says “I want to share my Olympic three’s. Never, never never give up. You know.  Teach the generation they quickly give up. We always never, never, never give up. Yes, I can I can do it!”

Contact Sherlene Shanklin at sherlene@sherleneshanklin.com or follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

To see the story, click the link https://www.whas11.com/amp/article/news/community/moments-that-matter/grandmaster-hwang-teaches-his-students-respect-and-discipline-in-louisville/417-8fd30281-40c1-4b7b-8aea-9832046c7f3b

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