This past Monday, Dong Yun (Don) Yoon lost his entire family in an unspeakable tragedy when an F-18 fighter jet crashed into his San Diego home, killing his two infant daughters (ages 1 month and 15 months), his wife and his mother-in-law who was in town to help care for the newborn.
It is heartbreaking for any of us to imagine what we might do in his situation. This hit home for us in a particular way this week: the Korean American community in San Diego is small and, while the Yoon family is not a part of our church, we are only one step removed from them. Many of our church families know this family, and are grieving alongside them at this time.
There have been small glimpses of light, faith and hope in the midst of this tragedy. First, the grace & faith Dong Yun Yoon displayed during his public statement about his loss. Instead of blaming the pilot whose jet killed his family, he asked us to pray for him. A friend of mine said that, while there are some important differences (one was an accident while the other involved hostages and murder) , Dong Yun’s response reminded him of how the Amish responded during their tragic school shooting.The LA Times ran a heartfelt op-ed piece today, likening Dong Yun’s response to that of Horatio Spafford, who lost his family and yet was able to pen the beloved hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. Although I certainly have more than my share of grievances with the immigrant Korean church, Dong Yun Yoon’s response, and the support of his church community, reminds me of what can be so right about the first generation faith: steadfast trust and hope in God, even in the midst of pain and sorrow, and a church that literally cries out to God on behalf of the suffering.
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.
For those of you who would like to contribute a donation to the Yoon family, their church has posted the following information:
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)