Posted on July 21, 2011
Ester Chung with KAVC New Jersey Staff and Interns
Ester Chung is a Korean American immigrant of Bergen County who now works as the Assistant to County Executive. The path she has taken to reach this position was not a short and easy one. She was born and educated in South Korea, but she came to the U.S. with her husband and two sons during the 1980’s to begin her new life. At that time, the Korean American population was very scarce in New Jersey, making it harder to adjust to her new life. Still, she remained steadfast and obtained a license to open the first Korean hair salon in Palisades Park.
During the conversation with the KAVC interns, Chung recalled a shocking incident. While busily working in her hair salon one day, she received a phone call from the police. She was surprised to find that her two sons were wrongly arrested. The gang member was Korean, so the police department arrested every single Korean student attending Closter High School. Furious that her children have been wrongly accused, Chung directly confronted one of the police officers, strongly stating that her sons were not involved in this in any way. At first, the police officer ignored her, but eventually, he gave in to her persistence and let her sons go. Chung related this experience to the whole Korean Community by urging today’s Korean American generation to be firm and persistent to its beliefs.
Today, Chung holds an important position in both Bergen County community and the Korean American community. Chung is the first Korean woman to actively participate in the political world in Bergen County, working alongside Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan. For county elections, Chung played a major role in gathering the Korean Americans’ votes for Donovan, winning her trust and support. Chung will continue to dedicate herself to Bergen County in the future and proudly represent the Korean American community.
The KAVC interns will contact her in the near future about the Buy Local, Shop Smart Project, which is designed to revive the local stores in Bergen County by shifting 10% of the customers’ expenses.