This past Friday marked my father's 80th birthday. I am writing about him because Kea Sung Chung is the founding father of KBFD. Starting the broadcast station in 1986 was extremely risky for my father, who placed all his eggs in one basket, a business practice everyone tells you to avoid.
The amount of investment needed to fund a TV station was overwhelming and in that turmoil my family of six became as close as any family could be. We either made it happen or we would be homeless; we had sold our house to start KBFD. Years of hardship and lack of advertisement support nearly took us under many times, but my father never gave up and told us the value of KBFD promoting Korean culture in Hawaii was important to empower the Korean community.
It wasn't until the mid-1990s that our business started to break even. It started to grow with more investment in translating and subtitling our prime-time dramas, which my sister, Yun, took charge of. Korean dramas and K-pop gained momentum and have become a part of many local people's lives. Our viewership is very strong and loyal; many advertising clients have grown with us.
KBFD is now a family of five channels. My father's vision to help the Korean community through KBFD has yielded benefits that money alone could not produce. KBFD has changed the perception of Koreans in Hawaii to a very positive one. The cultural boom from K-drama and K-pop has helped many small businesses, including tours to South Korea, Korean restaurants and Korean language classes, to name a few.
My father has been given many medals of merit from the South Korean government — three honorary doctorates and other accolades — but he remains humble and continues to teach me the values of life. To my father and the father of KBFD, a man who is a pillar of the Korean community and who has helped so many, I would like to say: Happy 80th birthday and many more years of good health!