Meet Fred Jung — SH alumnus, former Lancer football coach and now Fullerton’s first Korean-American Council member in years

A+then-volunteer+coach%2C+Fred+Jung+%28middle%29%0Awith+the+stands+for+a+team+picture+with+the+Sunny+Hills+football+team+in+August+of+2009.

Image used with permission from Fred Jung.

A then-volunteer coach, Fred Jung (middle) with the stands for a team picture with the Sunny Hills football team in August of 2009.

Hanna Jung

As a Seoul immigrant who moved to the U.S. at only five years old, Fred Jung faced bullying and teasing for being the only Korean American attending his school until sixth grade.

“With loneliness, you become introverted,” Jung said. “But I learned to develop a thick skin and a tenacity that has served me well in my adult life.”

Through the years, Jung became a father, coach and businessman. He eventually started immersing himself within Fullerton’s community and tossed his hat in the ring to run for office in the Fullerton City Council.

And in the Nov. 3 general election, he accrued enough votes to win — the first Asian man to be on the Fullerton City Council. (Julie Sa, who is Chinese but was raised in Korea, was the last Asian to be elected, leaving office in 2000, according to the Orange County Register).

With the population of Fullerton’s Korean-American residents totaling to the highest in Orange County at 45.9%, Jung’s ability to represent his ethnic background is crucial to the community.

“I am humbled to be the first Korean-American City Council member in Fullerton’s rich history,” Jung said. “I am excited to represent our values and our collective history and work hard for the residents of Fullerton.”

I am excited to represent our values and our collective history and work hard for the residents of Fullerton.”

— Fred Jung

His roots to Fullerton don’t just stop at his new job, though. 

Jung attended Sunny Hills from 1988-1991 and took a position as a volunteer SH football coach in 2009 because he believed more Korean-American athletes would be empowered to join if the team had a Korean-American coach.

“My favorite part of coaching the Sunny Hills High School football team was everyday practices in the summer,” Jung said. “The team and its players and staff really get to know one another at that time and bond as a family.”

At the time, Sunny Hills did not have a Korean-American football coach on its staff. 

“I was honored to be a representative of my Korean-American community [to] coach and mentor young Korean-American student athletes,” Jung said.

Although Jung ended his four-year term as a coach in 2013, current SH head football coach Peter Karavedas is glad to have a former Lancer on the City Council.

 “Mr. Jung is a focused and determined man who cares deeply for the Fullerton community,” Karavedas said.“I believe the fact that he grew up here and has run successful businesses in this area will help him serve the community well.” 

As a firm believer in supporting his local schools, Jung plans to have all his children attend Sunny Hills; his two oldest have already done so, including one who is currently a senior.

There are nights that [Fred Jung] won’t sleep because he is working around the clock to get every piece of work done, no matter how big or small it is.”

— Leala Jung

“My father has inspired us to work our hardest to get where we are now,” said SH cheer squad captain senior Leala Jung, whose older brother Alex Jung graduated from Sunny Hills in 2018 and continues to hold the Freeway League football rushing record. “There are nights that he won’t sleep because he is working around the clock to get every piece of work done, no matter how big or small it is.” 

While his main priority is to relieve the struggling residents of Fullerton, councilman-elect Jung does not want to neglect the over 25,000 students enrolled in Fullerton District schools.

“It is important for me to work with our school districts to safely reopen fully, so our students can continue to have the quality education they deserve,” he said. “Teachers are all working hard to find ways to engage students. Students are working hard to stay engaged, and the government should be helping.”

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 14 print issue, which can be read here.