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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Richard Park, pioneer and godfather of Korean American Democrats, passes away at 84

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Richard Park

Richard Park (Sang Hyub Park), former advisor to the Korean American Democratic Committee (KADC) and a pioneering figure in the growth of Korean American Democrats in the United States, passed away in the early morning hours of June 28 at the age of 84.

The late Mr. Park played a pivotal role in establishing the Korean American community’s recognition in mainstream politics and fostering its political influence. He served as a crucial intermediary in the formation of the Korean American Democratic Committee, facilitating the engagement of mainstream politicians with the Korean American community.

For over four decades, Mr. Park ardently supported the Democratic Party and engaged with prominent politicians. He began his political journey as a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), eventually rising to become a senior party member, finance committee member, and Asia-Pacific advisor.

Throughout his career, he fostered close relationships with influential figures such as former President Jimmy Carter, Senator Edward Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton, former Senator Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, and Senator John Kerry. Notably, Mr. Park played an instrumental role in helping Joe Biden secure the presidency in 2020 and actively supported Barack Obama’s successful re-election campaign in 2012.

Mr. Park was also instrumental in introducing these political figures to the Korean American community, significantly expanding the influence of Korean Americans in the United States.

A devoted supporter of Hillary Clinton, Mr. Park gained recognition for inviting the presidential candidate to Koreatown in Los Angeles in 2007. He founded and chaired the Hillary Clinton Korean American Foundation, which organized a fundraising event at the Oxford Palace Hotel attended by over 100 Korean American supporters, raising approximately $350,000. This contribution marked a significant milestone as the largest political contribution ever made by the Korean American community at that time.

Additionally, Mr. Park’s organization brought notable mainstream politicians like California Governor Jerry Brown and DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to LA Koreatown, showcasing the potential of the Korean American community and facilitating networking opportunities for the next generation of Korean Americans with influential politicians.

In the 2000s, as an increasing number of first-generation Koreans entered politics, Mr. Park’s organization became a steadfast supporter and fundraiser for their campaigns.

Richard Park was born in Namwon, North Jeolla Province, South Korea, in 1938. He graduated with a major in law from Korea University in Seoul, South Korea. In 1965, he pursued further studies in the United States and earned a master’s degree in sociology from Pacific State University. Following his graduation, he established and managed a jewelry store and a gun shop in LA Koreatown, along with owning franchises of Coffee Bean and the luxury brand Gucci in South Korea.

Mr. Park began his community involvement as a board member of the Korean American Association of Southern California in 1972. Throughout the years, he served the Korean American community in various capacities, including chairman of the Dosan Memorial Project, chairman of the Now Economic Association, chairman of the Koreatown Prosperity Association, Los Angeles City Commissioner, Democracy and Peace Advisory Committee member, and Beverly Hills Sister City Committee member.

A funeral service to honor Richard Park’s life will take place at 3 p.m. on July 6 at Church on the Hill, Hollywood Forest Lawn. He is survived by his widow, Nancy Park, two sons (James and John), and five daughters (Jennifer, Alice, Janice, Jane, and Gina).

For further inquiries, please contact (213) 255-8887.

BY NICOLE CHANG [support@koreadaily.com]