YHB/A letter from Seattle

This page was last edited on 6 July 2019, at 10:55.

Yoon founded branches of the YKU throughout the U.S. Every year the delegates of each branch met at a yearly conference in either New York or Los Angeles. The atmosphere at these conferences was serious, almost to the point of hostility. First, each region reported their activities and plans. Next, a member, who was appointed his task in advance, reported on the international and national political situation. After the report, all the members engaged in discussion. The highlight of the meeting was Yoon's evaluation.

Yoon did not take notes, yet he remembered every detail of the reports. He critiqued each report, and no flaw escaped his cutting criticism, but Yoon never spoke in anger. During discussion, Yoon refrained from using ornate language. He always spoke plainly. Sometimes, he even used vulgar comparisons and metaphors to make his point. Even those that were being criticized couldn’t help but burst out in laughter.

The most complicated international relations were easily unraveled by Yoon. He said, “International relations isn’t about what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s about economic choice – gain and loss. If you understand what each party is after, you can understand why they make the choices that they do.” Yoon's explanations were easy to comprehend because he spoke in layman’s terms and without jargon. He preferred to speak this way, not because he lacked knowledge of the theories of political criticism, but rather that he simply disliked lofty, pseudo-intelligent speech.

In 1985, a few young men began to meet in Seattle. One of them was Lee Jong-rok. Lee Jong-rok was a self-confessed intellectual snob. The first time Lee met Yoon, he was bewildered by Yoon’s shabby appearance and nasal voice; this was not the political leader that Lee had expected. Yoon looked as scruffy as a country boy. But soon enough Lee became Yoon’s follower and respectfully called him hyung,[주 1] despite the fact that Yoon was four years younger. Lee was convinced that Yoon was, as Yoon claimed, the fertilizer from which a new world would sprout.


  1. Literally meaning “older brother” in Korean, used by men to speak of men who are older.