In November of 1981, Yoon moved his refuge to Los Angeles. When he left, Yoon parted with Mr. and Mrs. Kim sobbing tears of gratitude. As Princess Naussica rescued Odysseus, Kim Dong-geun and Kim Jin-sook had saved Yoon and given him a home – he owed them his life.
His new patron in Los Angeles was Kim Sang-don, the former mayor of Seoul. After the year of 1948 when the new government had been established in South Korea, Kim Sang-don had led efforts to bring pro-Japanese traitors to justice. This project failed due to President Lee Seung-man’s oppression and a lack of cooperation from the police. Kim Sang-don then redirected his efforts to the anti-dictatorship movement. After the April Revolution, which overthrew Lee Seung-man, Kim Sang-don became the mayor of Seoul. However, after Park Chung-hee’s coup d’etat, Kim Sang-don had to step down and even spend time in jail. In 1972, he fled to the U.S., where he led the movement for democracy among Korean immigrants.
Kim Sang-don was around 80 when Yoon met him, but the sparkle in his eyes showed he was as keen and alert as ever. He was a man of principle, and he never compromised his beliefs. But to his comrades, he was known for being kind and giving. Later, Yoon said of him, “Kim Sang-don was always generous. He cared for me like I was his son. Even when I was rude to him during discussions, he remained gracious and understanding.”
Kim Sang-don introduced Yoon to local Korean immigrants, and took him to various meetings that supported Korea’s democracy. At these meetings, Yoon went by the name Kim Sang-won.
What with the weather and the abundance of Korean immigrants, the Korea Town of Los Angeles felt like a district of Seoul. But at the same time, the immigrant population there cast a wary eye on newcomers. Who are you? they wanted to know. And more importantly - Whose side are you on? South Korea’s? Or North Korea’s?
The immigrants of Los Angeles were suspicious of this Kim Sang-won. Had he really smuggled himself into America? How could he have managed to cross the pacific when he was wanted by the Korean government?
Around that time, the Japanese monthly magazine 'Sekai' cast doubt on the circumstances around Yoon’s trip to the U.S. Suspicions soared. 'He must be an agent from South Korea.' 'Maybe he is a spy from North Korea.'
There was a man who defended Yoon against these conspiracies. He was a dentist named Choi Jin-hwan. He met with Yoon and listened to Yoon’s story – the uprising in Gwangju and his secret passage to America.
One day a heated discussion rose among the elders. What is Yoon's identity? they wanted to know. Mr. Choi spoke up for Yoon: "I've met the man myself, and he told me his story. He fought for democracy in Korea. Of this I’m certain."
Dr. Choi was a trusted and respected man among local Koreans. His unwavering support for Yoon put a damper on the conspiracies mounting against him.