Young Il Hong

January 3, 1942 - May 26, 2019

Young Il Hong


On Sunday, May 26, 2019, the World lost one of the funniest, craziest and toughest guys on the planet – Grand Master Young Hong.  He was diagnosed with cancer about two months ago (experiencing pain for four months)  It tore through his body like lightning.  Young was born January 3, 1942 in Seoul, Korea the son of Hong, Sam Bong and (Yim) Soon Duk.  As a little boy, he witnessed the atrocities of war in Korea.  He taught himself English and while in Germany, nearly died working in the coal mines.  When he arrived in New York, he had $27.00 in his pocket.   On his first date with Beth, he met her entire family as he invited himself to her family picnic.  Beth Adamson and Young were married on November 23, 1968 at Zion Lutheran Church in Belvidere. Young established Young Hong Karate Institute in Belvidere and Woodstock, IL.  He was a former judge for Chuck Norris’ black belt test in Detroit, MI.  Young’s toughness was exemplified in having his wisdom teeth pulled without the use of anesthetic.  Young enjoyed many life events with many stories to accompany them. For instance, the time he sang with Dean Martin.  Young was proud to be an American; he was good, honest, loyal and a hardworking man who lived the American dream.  He will be remembered by his children and grandchildren as the greatest grandpa ever.

Young is loved and will be missed by his wife, Beth; children, Jacob (Laura) Hong of O’Fallon, IL, Justen (Nicole) Hong of O’Fallon, IL, Jessica (Tom) Tanner of Tampa, FL; grandchildren, Andrew and Jack Hong, Benjamin and Colten Hong, Barrett and River Tanner; brothers, Kyung Hwan Hong and Kyung Ho Hong; sister, Jung Soon Hong, numerous nieces and nephews.  Young is preceded in death by his parents, son Steven and two brothers and one sister.

A memorial gathering will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, June 17, 2019 at Anderson Funeral and Cremation Services, 218 W. Hurlbut Avenue, Belvidere, IL.  Private family services have taken place.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the American Cancer Society ( or to Zion Lutheran Church, 1300 Pearl Street, Belvidere, IL.  To share a memory, please visit

Service Schedule

Monday, June 17, 2019
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Anderson Funeral and Cremation Services

218 West Hurlbut Ave
Belvidere, IL 61008


A memorial gathering will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, June 17, 2019 at Anderson Funeral and Cremation Services, 218 W. Hurlbut Avenue, Belvidere, IL.

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My deepest condolences to you Beth, Jacob,Justen and Jessica. I became a student of Mr. Hong when I was a very young man in High School (around 1984). This was a very turbulent time in my life and would get even more difficult three years later when I lost my father at age 18. During those times and throughout my life since then Mr. Hong and the things he taught me made a tremendous difference for good in my life. I am so sorry for your loss and will be praying for God’s grace to strengthen you all. I was so fond of Your husband/Dad. He was and will remain a significant person in my life. I am 51 now and my blackbelt certificate with his signature hangs on the wall in my study and not a day goes by that I don’t look at it and think of him.

Kurt Scharrennberg 2019-06-21T19:08:57

Master Hong was an amazing instructor, I was lucky enough to have him teach me in my childhood all the way up to having a 3rd degree black belt. He had so much energy, discipline and strength.

JULIA AYDIN 2019-06-17T18:17:37

Dear Hongs,
Please know how deeply sorry I am for your loss. I feel very lucky to have spent many hours with Mr. Hong at cookouts and brithday parties on Jacob and Laura’s back patio. With his great sense of humor, and enthusiam for friends and family, he was always the life of the party. I will miss him.

Bruce Cook 2019-06-14T10:05:02

Master Hong had a significant effect on our family. Three of us studied and trained with him at his school In Belvidere, and my son and I became instructors there before moving to Arizona in 2000. He was a man of integrity, discipline and humility. His sense of humor was infectious, and his ability to inspire and teach was unmatched. My life was certainly better for having known, and learned from him. Rest In Peace, Master Hong and God bless the Hong family.

John Corbett 2019-06-13T15:10:25

Where do I start? I truly believe everyone who knew him loved him! I certainly do! Belvidere park will not be the same without him! That smile, the fabulous and funny stories, that amazing presence! Beth, I’m just a phone call away! If you need anything at all! Love you!

Karen Turner 2019-06-13T13:20:46

Dear Beth and Family,
My sincerest sympathy to all of you. Although I have not lived in Belvidere for many years I maintain contact with family still in the area. I remember when you and Young lived across the street from us on Ogden Street years ago. Young had such a zest for life and was always so fun-loving to be around. I am certain he has touched many young lives over the years at his studio and in the community. Sadly, I will not be able to attend the Memorial service but will keep you all in my prayers during this difficult time.

Michele Walker Brand 2019-06-12T22:34:21

My most sincere condolences to your family. I had the honor of studying Karate under his instruction. It had a profound impact on my life in much more than Martial Arts. He showed me that hard work, determination and respect could open the doors to success and achievement. As I rose through the belts, I was also sculpted into a greater version of my young self. I will never forget his fun loving character, yet at the same time an unparalleled strength of body, mind and spirit. He was truly an inspiration to all who studied under him. He will be missed greatly, but will live on in all of those whose lives he touched.

Mike Tumilowicz 2019-06-10T22:14:35

My deepest sympathy for your family. I will always remember how he was such a wonderful influence on my son Michael’s life. He became a second degree black belt but learned so much more from Mr Hong. He was an example of a gentle soul with integrity, compassion, determination and discipline. He taught my son much more than Karate.

Patti Tumilowicz 2019-06-10T12:21:22

I am honored to have known this man. He was a teacher and mentor beyond the physicality of martial art. He was a man of spirit, grit, determination, light-heartedness, …clear boundaries and a man that lighted up any room; this is a spirit that can only be embodied, it can never die. He was so generous to me that I am sure I had disappointed him with my youthful impetuousness 20 years ago. I would like to give my most sincere condolences to friend and family. I write this with sadness and remorse for not having been able to express this to him in person. May you all know and appreciate the attributes of this man and work to embody them to carry that torch. God bless us.

Alexander Mueller 2019-06-09T14:53:15

May you know God’s peace and be encouraged with your memories of the life he lived with you. I knew Young Hong when his Woodstock Karate Institute was at SEDOM where I was one of the teachers. I wish I would have known him beyond that time. I’m thankful to know him better through this story of his life.

nova J quigley 2019-06-07T19:10:35

So sorry to hear of the passing of Master Hong. I was a student many, many years ago and became a golf buddy and friend. Always enjoyed seeing Mr. Hong with his bright smile and good humor. My Sincerest sympathies to all his family.

Percy Gordon 2019-06-06T08:34:42

So sorry for your loss…my friend Bill and I took lessons from Mr Hong when we were teens, and I remember him fondly.

James 2019-06-05T20:39:16

So sorry for your lost. I will miss seeing him and his smile at the Belvidere Park. My husband Paublo trained with him as a child and always said he was a great man!

Jeanette Garza 2019-06-05T13:49:02

Young was a member of the Belvidere Jaycees at the same time I was (later 60’s-early 70’s). He was very talented, fun to be around and always a gentleman. My condolences to Beth and his family.

Roger Lamphere 2019-06-04T23:23:35

He was my husband ‘ Rocky ‘ karate instructor and taught him very well to where he got black belts. He talked a lot about this man to me when I met Rocky in 79. REST IN HEAVEN AND HOPEFULLY THEY WILL MEET AGAIN.

Rhonda Trevino 2019-06-04T23:23:26

I am so sorry for your loss.

Suzie Laws (Roberts) 2019-06-04T21:19:04

I’m sorry for your loss. I was a black belt student of Master Hong’s back when the studio was right by the rail road tracks in Belvidere and then when they moved the dojo over by their residence on Bypass 20. I remember running into him years later as a waitress, and I was so shocked he remembered me and my brother. I hope to come to the service next week.

Erica (Harris) Grajciar 2019-06-04T20:52:27

I’m so sorry for your loss, may you God give you comfort and strength during this time.

Kim (Rippentrop) Balson 2019-06-04T20:45:49

Dear Beth and Family….My deepest sympathies to you all in this time of sorrow. Young was such a wonderful man. I used to time his meets in the 70’s. Such a kind, generous and funny man. Keep your memories close till you are together again. Sincerely, Kathy Mechler

Kathy Mechler 2019-06-04T20:20:59


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