Slain immigrant recalled as a gentle, diligent worker

April 26, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

Three years ago, Hae Gak Chung left his native Korea to come to America to fulfill his dream of obtaining good educations for his three children.

Settling in Baltimore, Hae Gak Chung worked for a while at a liquor store owned by one of his brothers. Eventually Chung landed a job as a night manager at the 7-Eleven in the 400 block of E. 33rd St., said his brother Hae Duk Chung, 50.

"He was a diligent and responsible person," working at least 13 hours a day, said a friend, the Rev. James Ro, a pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church. "He really worked hard to support them."

It was work that often kept Chung from spending a lot of time with his children, two of whom attended private schools and another college, Ro said.

On Tuesday, Chung's dream ended abruptly and violently.

He was shot in the right forearm and right chest by a gunman who entered the convenience store about 3 a.m. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

His death is one of the city's escalating 101 homicides so far this year.

After the shooting, the gunman fled as Chung, of the 300 block of Limestone Valley Drive in Cockeysville, lay bleeding on the floor behind the cash register, police said.

Three days after his death, the assailant remains at large, police said.

Ro said the shooting was triggered by an argument earlier in the day when Chung spotted a shoplifter.

The shoplifter said, "I'll come back and kill you."

Yesterday at 11 a.m., friends and family attended a service at Lemmon-Mitchell-Wiedefeld funeral establishment on West Padonia Road to say goodbye to the reticent family man. He was buried an hour later in Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

"He was very quiet, very gentle, a shy person," Ro said. "He didn't talk much, but he loved to be with people."

Chung spoke little English.

Survivors include his wife, Jung Ja Chung; and three children, Soon Young, 21, In Young, 19, and Jin Young, 17.

He also leaves four brothers, two of whom live in Baltimore, and a sister.

One brother, Hae Duk Chung, said Chung realized the area in which he worked was dangerous. "But he didn't have a choice, he had to earn a living."

In Kimchun, Korea, in the southern portion of the country, Chung worked as a pharmacist for several decades, his brother said. He followed his father, also a pharmacist.

Had he remained in Korea, Ro said, Chung "definitely . . . [would] be alive."

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