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About Grand Master Jung

Contact Informations
  • Grand Master Woojin Jung
  • 3950 Wilson Ave. SW
  • Cedar Rapids, IOWA 52404 USA
  • Phone Number +1 (319) 396-1000 / +1 (319) 396-1980
  • Fax Number +1 (319) 396-1517
  • mail to

Grand Master Woojin Jung's Life

On December 31, 1971, Grand Master Woojin Jung landed at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa airport in the United States. The ground was covered with a meter of snow. Both confused and awestruck, he thought, 'This is the land for me to be challenged.' Upon his arrival in the U.S. from Korea, GM Jung had only $35 - he was almost penniless. His English was still poor and life was hard at first. His first job was a pump man at a gas station. Poor and hungry, living in a foreign country was much harder than he expected.

"At first, I had hard times, but every morning I was excited. My earliest memory is that I had to work from six in the morning into the evening, but I was supposed to spend only 20 dollars a month. It was hard. There was a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant on the way to the gas station. At home I was supposed to eat only some rice and water, so I couldn't afford to buy anything from there. So I bought a piece (of chicken) a week on Friday. I became happy from Thursday. I ate even the bones. It was the most delicious thing in my life. ometimes I go there, looking at trees in front of the store. I go to KFC and eat one piece on December 31st every year."

Today, he is known as one of the most successful Taekwondo masters in the U.S. He runs seven fitness clubs and owns several shopping malls. He operates a 36-acre Taekwondo training site in the Rocky Mountains and is the publisher of the world-famous magazine, TaeKwonDo Times. But he has not forgotten the hard work and perseverance that got him to where he is today. Working around his clubs, he seems like a janitor, picking up garbage and cleaning pools. It is a rare thing to see from such a successful businessman. It was because of Taekwondo that he was able to do best in the foreign country. He rarely met Asians in a small rough neighborhood in Iowa, where he opened his first Taekwondo school. Guess what the name was? It was 'Taekwondo Karate.'

Master Jung did not have enough money at first and found the laws of Cedar Rapids very confusing. Having a college degree in engineering, he would do his own electrical work. But an inspector from the city became upset, saying he could not do it "he was not licensed. Master Jung did not understand why. More inspectors came and were upset that he did not have things 'up to code' but he did not understand. One day, the city summoned him. They wanted a public hearing. Showing up in the city hall, people started to whisper to themselves, "That's the man, definitely!" The quiet city Cedar Rapids had an eccentric person. The people of city hall held many talks on his school and even disputed it. With his hands on his stomach, he talked in the most modest way possible. "It's not been long since I came to your country, and I don't have enough money. So I have a lot of troubles here. I would like to teach Taekwondo to people in your country, but I know little in many ways. So you please help me," he said. The people of city hall decided to give him an opportunity.

Don Conney, Mayor of Cedar Rapids, fought in Korean War. He remembered Koreans as good and wanted to help. They became friends and even like brothers. Moreover, Cedar Rapids and Wulsan, Woojin Jung's hometown, became sister cities.

Still, after opening his school against all odds, he still had many obstacles. It had only one bathroom, and water heating system was so poor that more than two people could not take a shower. It had no parking lot, so students had difficulty parking their cars. But nobody complained. Students understood his situation,their instructor was poor. Master Jung recalls, "I learned a lesson that the large number of students doesn't make you happy." His first testing was for only 11 students, then 20 to 30 and finally to 100 after a year. He tested a total of 700 people for seven years in this school. He had no money to advertise his school, but more and more students came. But Master Jung faced other challenges. Most notable were the gangs. In his rough neighborhood, gang members constantly challenged him. He was bothered by them for a year. It was a terrible headache. Every time he had to face those thugs he was alone.

One day, one thug challenged him, and no matter how hard Master Jung tried to scare him off, he would only laugh. Master Jung got scared. He had to beat the guy, die or live. He made up his mind, and made one of his students bring pencil and paper. Once he got prepared, he wasn't scared at all. He handed the pencil and paper to the thug, and told him to write a memorial, 'It's OK if I die during this fight.' The thug said he didn't want to die. So Jung told him to call the police. The thug just left the school running away from him, saying "Don't call the police, please."

Master Jung had a hard time in demonstrating, too. People didn't know about Taekwondo so he would break concrete with his fists or even his head. The doctors would advise him not to use his head, but he did it to popularize Taekwondo. He did all kinds of things to distribute Taekwondo. His childhood was hard, so he was able to make through the tough times he faced now. The Korean War broke out when he was only nine. The Korean War gave a lot of pain to the Korean people. People would starve without food or clothes. The whole country seemed crazy and no one felt safe. So he started Taekwondo. "Taekwondo didn't have its formal shape. I learned it just for self-defense. It was dangerous to hang around at night in those days. At nine, Korean War broke out, and the world was so tough. I think I learned Taekwondo from a yellow belt holder. I entered a school in Pusan, and then I opened my own school in 1962 when I was studying alone in Seoul. I wanted to get some financial advantage from it." He was fascinated with Taekwondo. It led him to be a Taekwondo instructor even in Vietnam. Finally he took Taekwondo for his vocation. Fighting for survival, he decided to leave Korea where there were so much suppression that he couldn't realize his dream and to emigrate to USA, 'Country of Liberty.'