In the summer of 1999, Won-Joon Yoon, 26, arrived in Bloomington to begin preparations to enroll in the Ph.D. program in our department. On July 4, he was fatally shot while outside a church on E. Third Street.
July 4, 2019 was the 20th anniversary of the murder of Won-Joon Yoon outside of the Korean United Methodist Church. Each year his church holds a memorial service on the lawn of the church at a monument where he died and prays for an end to this kind of violence. Won-Joon came to Bloomington after completing an undergraduate degree at Southern Illinois University. While waiting for church to begin, Won-Joon was shot by a racially motivated shooter who had gone on a shooting spree that began in Illinois and left two people dead and nine injured.
Our department, IU and Bloomington were shocked by this horrific act of violence. Won-Joon, the only son of his parents, Shin-Ho Yoon and Kang-Soon Lee, had three sisters. Several thousand people attended a memorial service in Won-Joon's honor held at the IU Musical Arts Center on July 12, 1999, which ended with a candlelight march to the Korean United Methodist Church. U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno, also participated in the memorial service.
Robert Becker was chair of our department at the time of Won-Joon's death. He met with Won-Joon's parents and attended the memorial service. Professor Becker was, and still is, deeply affected by this young man's senseless death.
To honor Won-Joon, IU created a scholarship in his name. The scholarship website states "Won-Joon Yoon was a young, bright and promising Korean graduate student who was killed on July 4, 1999, as he was entering his church. He was the victim of a random act of extremist violence. Indiana University established a scholarship to honor Mr. Yoon by supporting of students who promote tolerance and understanding across racial and religious lines through service, personal commitment, academic achievement and future potential."