In October, 1983, as the school was shaping up, Yoon initiated a new organization, called the Young Koreans United (YKU). The inaugural meeting was held in a trade union building in San Francisco on January 1 of 1984. About a dozen students from Yoon’s school attended, as well as a few young men from Chicago and New York who had heard about the school.
The following is Lee Jong-rok’s description of the YKU:
I first heard of Yoon around 1984. I heard he was a student activist who had smuggled himself overseas secretly. It was quite the mystery. Why did he flee not to Japan but to America? At the time it sounded like a myth.
A friend of mine at Yale said he’d met Yoon in Boston once. This was in 1984, when Yoon was going around the main cities of America where there were large populations of Koreans. My friend said Yoon, at a glance, looked like he belonged in a farm. He was dressed simply, and he spoke very plainly. The Ivy-League students who met him thought of him as an inferior.
But then one day my friend got into an argument with Yoon. It lasted all night. At first, my friend was very sure of himself. But as the night wore on, he became more and more convinced by Yoon’s rough, simple speech. And by morning, he’d entirely changed his mind.
Since then, my friend played an important role in organizing the Boston branch of the YKU. My friend said he realized that night that the intellectuals – himself included – were far removed from reality, whereas Yoon was passionate and invested in that reality because he lived in it. He was an activist, and not a critic. He had a way of breaking down the intellectual elitism in educated young men, and convincing them to become involved and to take action as a part of an organization, of a movement.