I just finished a major revision to the life story of Taekwondo Grandmaster Won Chik Park that put it into what my agent and an interested publisher agreed was a more publishable length. In going back through this amazing story line by line, paragraph by paragraph and chapter by chapter, I was again struck with the awe that first compelled me to write this story.
Literally running for his life from invading communist troops as the Korean War began, then living on the streets as a refugee, then finding resourceful ways to keep himself and his sister from starving, the gold standard of heroism is first revealed in this ten year old boy, and it continued to emerge as the grand adventure of this remarkable life unfolded. As an immigrant, as a parent of first generation Korean American children, as a leader and cultural icon, and as one of the top ranked Taekwondo Grandmasters in the world, the story of Won Chik Park is his true account of a heroic life he never imagined — and still can’t quite believe.
I have no doubt that Grandmaster Park’s story is special and could serve as inspiration and hope to anyone facing daunting if not seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their own lives. What I wonder, though, is how many other heroes are there out there whose stories never get told? How many owners of remarkable lives would say, just as Grandmaster Park did in our first interview, that his story wasn’t really that interesting — and that he just did what he had to do, went through the doors that opened to him, and followed his heart and desire to do the right thing no matter what happened. Isn’t that what a hero does? As writers, isn’t that we must do to get these stories out to others who could benefit from their example? What kind of hero stories does the world need more of?