Montgomery’s baseball team, the Montgomery Biscuits, recognized and celebrated the greater Montgomery area’s growing Korean community on Friday night. The team changed its name to the Montgomery Kimchi for the one-night event. Beasley Allen attorney Soo Seok Yang was instrumental in the effort.
Celebrating Korean Culture
Monty, the happy buttermilk biscuit that normally appears on the team’s hat and jerseys, stepped aside for a special guest mascot. Taking center stage was the Kimchi mascot – a feisty napa cabbage leaf emerging from a bowl of kimchi. Kimchi is generally a mixture of cabbage, radishes, and other vegetables that have been fermented in spicy Korean gochu peppers. It’s a staple Korean food, much like biscuits are a Southern staple.
While there was plenty of kimchi on hand to sample, it was but one part of Korean culture showcased in Riverwalk Stadium. Traditional Korean music, dance, art, and taekwondo were also part of Korean Heritage Night. These exhibits and performances were featured before, during, and after the game between the Montgomery Kimchi and the Biloxi Shuckers.
The Korean community has grown in Montgomery and the greater River Region since Hyundai opened its first U.S. production plant here in 2006. Along with Hyundai came a multitude of other South Korean auto suppliers and expats who have made Alabama their new home.
A Unique Path
Mr. Yang and his wife are among the South Koreans who call Alabama home, but their path has been uniquely their own. He was a student at Handong International Law School in South Korea studying U.S. law. It was there that he met his wife, Doh Ah Kim. They received an opportunity under the U.S Congress and Korea National Assembly Exchange Program to intern for Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker. That opportunity led them to Montgomery in 2006. They became Alabama lawyers in 2008 after attending George Washington University. Mr. Yang is now a member of Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts section.
A few years ago, Mr. Yang was serving as the Executive Director of the Korean American Association of Greater Montgomery when he got a phone call from Biscuits General Manager Michael Murphy. Mr. Murphy was asking for help in planning a Korean Heritage night for the Biscuits and incorporating elements of Korean culture into the team’s new, albeit temporary, image.
“The moment I heard about it, I was thrilled,” Mr. Yang said.
Mr. Yang and his family also helped celebrate the friendship between the U.S. and South Korea in other ways. Mr. Yang sang both the American and Korean National Anthem before the game. His mother, who was a professional Korean dancer, traveled to Montgomery to perform in Friday evening’s events.
Other key participants in Korean Heritage Night included the Alabama-Korea Education and Economic Partnership (A-KEEP) and Pulmuone Foods. A-KEEP serves as a bridge between the American and Korean communities. Pulmuone Foods is one of South Korea’s largest food companies and manufactures the nation’s bestselling kimchi.
A Continuing Tradition
Mr. Murphy initiated the idea of Korea Heritage Night years ago, wanting to learn more about Korean culture. Plans for the return of the Montgomery Kimchi are already in the works for next year.