A Little Joy from Afar: A Note from the Family of Charlie Kang

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The photo above, contributed by the family, shows Charlie (Chong-Huang) Kang and his wife Soon-Young Kang at a 1998 celebration of the 70th birthday of Charlie Kang’s oldest sister, in St. Louis, Missouri. Charlie Kang passed away in 2004. Soon-Young Kang continues to work at the East Lansing restaurant on a part-time basis to help her daughter Amy, the current owner.

Last week, ELi contributor Ann Nichols wrote about the pleasure and comfort of takeout from Charlie Kang’s and her column made its way to the founder’s second oldest daughter, Yuni Yi. Read here about how Ann’s report brought joy all the way to Wisconsin!

My name is Yuni Yi. I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and am Charlie Kang’s second oldest daughter.

My sister sent me your heartwarming article last week that appeared in East Lansing Info. I really want to thank you for supporting small businesses like Charlie Kang’s during this time of uncertainty.

Your article made me flashback to thirty-some years ago when my parents opened Charlie Kang’s restaurant with a small amount of money they borrowed from their friends. My dad Charlie (Chong-Huang) Kang and my mom Soon-Young Kang worked diligently every day without taking a single vacation day. They provided for five children, who are now grown and graduated from college.

Your article brought me such gratitude and thankfulness—not only for my parents’ ceaseless sacrifices but for the people of East Lansing who made our story of immigration successful.

The story you wrote inspired me to share and contribute more of our gifts and talents to our community in this time of turmoil. Your article also demonstrates what it means to help and support one another in our divisive culture. That hope will give us strength and courage to weather this difficult time.

The spirit of encouraging and helping one another is the very spirit Mr. Charlie Kang instilled in us as children, and what we inherited as his legacy. Our family recently memorialized my father’s passing away in 2004. We will all miss grandma’s famous yukgaejang but we will remember Charlie Kang’s legacy that impacted us all.

Please continue to use your gift of writing to bring hope, comfort and encouragement to people around you. Stay healthy and take care.

NOTE: This letter from Yuni Yi has been lightly edited for length and clarity. This is part of our ongoing series of stories shared by ELi readers and contributors about little things and positive moments that bring us joy and hope during the coronavirus outbreak. Do you have a little local story of joy or a tale of hope you would like to share through East Lansing Info? Click here for details. We would love to hear from you!

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