Yul, a resident of Tapestry for nearly a decade, is one of our company’s Ambassadors – volunteer community spokespeople who are pleased to share what they love about their life and living at Tapestry. We are very pleased to share Yul’s story in print and video. Like all of our residents, Yul radiates energy that naturally inspires all of us who live and work at Tapestry. An avid runner and dedicated mentor, Yul says his inspiration comes from his life’s challenges and he is eager to share his experiences to show why everything in life is possible.
Born in a rural farming area of Korea, Yul’s life started – like many of his marathons – on an uphill slope. With limited access to water and sanitization in his small community, many children fell ill against the backdrop of a civil war that was tearing apart his beloved Korea. During a conflict that saw a country and lives torn apart, Yul painfully lost his mother and older brother as the Korean war raged.
“I lived with my family on the frontline of the war,” remembers Yul. “We were bombed constantly and I would often hear the planes overhead which was terrifying.”
Despite the challenges of war and his personal losses, Yul persevered. He completed middle-school which was located more than 50 kilometres from his farming community, pedalling newspapers to help pay for his education. His early life’s significant challenges cemented his view that by working hard, you can achieve anything in life that you dream possible.
Never imagining he would go on to achieve higher education, Yul successfully entered Seoul National University, inspired by a mentor that encouraged him to continue his studies. Yul supported himself by tutoring students and after graduation secured a job at the Central Bank of South Korea.
Like the marathons he runs today, his dreams of higher education had a longer runway. Yul learned of a scholarship that was available in Canada and after being accepted to McMaster University to pursue a Master’s Degree in Economics, he left Korea with one suitcase and $50 in his pocket. However, there was one important thing missing as he started his journey and his new life; his fiancé Joanne.
“I was a regular customer at her drug store where she worked as a Pharmacist in Seoul,” says Yul. “We enjoyed going out for coffee and taking long walks. She joined me in Canada two years after I arrived. She was a wonderful woman, and a dedicated and loving mother.”
Together Yul and Joanne raised two lovely children. After growing up in a war-torn country, they worked hard to give their children opportunities they could only have dreamed of as children.
“They were always good students,” Yul says, proudly describing his son and daughter. “They both went to medical school and are doing wonderful research in their fields. I am so very proud of them as they are wonderful people and they do amazing work that benefits society.”
At the age of 60, Yul was inspired by his daughter to begin running. He started with 10 kilometre distances and eventually increased his stamina to participate in longer distance races, including qualifying and running for the Boston Marathon in 2005.
In that same year, Yul also started mentoring university students. Having published his book, “Young Dreamers! Have a Vision”, Yul inspired students with his unique background in economics and his personal stories of survival and immigration. He has lectured to students all over the world, including Korea, Hungary, Australia, Japan and Canada.
While continuing to mentor young students, running remained Yul’s daily passion. “Running is a wonderful break from academic studies,” says Yul, who also believes that wellness is the key to both physical health and mental alertness.
In 2016, Yul again had the opportunity to participate in the Boston Marathon and he set his mind to winning in his age category. Yul achieved his dream when he crossed the finish line first in his age category. “I was elated,” Yul says. “Coming first in the Boston Marathon gives you a sense of winning in the world.”
Yul’s philosophy is simple and one that he believes anybody can adopt. No matter what challenges are presented in your life, by setting your intention, working hard, and staying positive, you can achieve your dreams and make miracles happen.