Rising Star: Juliet Jung applies martial arts to human rights activism
By Brenda Velasquez | Asian Avenue magazine
Hometown Aurora, CO
Involvements Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority Vice President, Korean American Students at Boulder (KASB) Event Coordinator, CollaborAsian VIP Coordinator, Dennis Small Culture Center Event Coordinator
Interests Singing, Taekwondo, Community Service
Quote She Lives By “There is nothing in this world that you can’t have or do as long as you want it enough and you’re willing to work for it.”
Juliet in Three Words positive, determined, friendly
Dream Job To make a difference
Since its addition to the Olympics roster, Korean martial art taekwondo has gained worldwide popularity as a competitive sport, but 20-year old Juliet Jung applies its principles in a more community-oriented ambition.
As part of her participation in the 2012 Miss Asian American Colorado (AACO) program, third-level black belt Jung conducted a presentation on violence against women accompanied by a self-defense seminar.
“I grew up in a martial arts family so violence against women is a very important cause for me,” said Jung, who along with her brother began practicing taekwondo as a child, inspired by their father, an accomplished grandmaster who trained Olympic athletes.
“It was inspiring to be exposed to all the different projects and things they care about,” said Jung about her interactions with fellow Miss AACO participants.
“The best thing about the program is that it provides young Asian American women the chance to make a difference. It’s a gateway.”
After the program, Jung continued her service project on female empowerment by hosting an “Internalized Asian Beauty Stereotypes and Self-Esteem” workshop at the University of Denver, discussing the pressures for Asian women to fulfill both American and Asian beauty standards.
The chance to make an impact drives Jung’s community involvement promoting culture with her Asian-interest sorority Sigma Psi Zeta and several student organizations where she plans cultural events. At times, Jung herself participates in these ethnic functions, performing dances in traditional Korean dress. She explains the catalyst behind her admiration for her South Korean heritage:
“I get a lot of pride from my parents because they always talk about how Korea is a small country compared to other Asian nations like China and Japan but it’s made a name for itself; now people all over the world know Korea.”
After partnering with non-profit organization Liberty in North Korea for a KASB Korean Culture Night, Jung’s passion for community involvement and cultural awareness developed into a specific focus on human rights activism concerning Korea’s northern half.
The values taekwondo has instilled in Jung including humility, respect and hard work correlate intimately with her interest in advocacy, a service-based career that demands immense dedication to disadvantaged groups and social causes.
Although Jung may not follow in her father’s footsteps as a taekwondo professional, its values have fueled her passion to ensure citizens in different countries can enjoy basic liberties—a privilege she exercises in her thirst for diversity.
“It’s a beautiful thing to be in a place where we have the freedom to learn about different cultures.”