The Jhoon Rhee Story

Jhoon Rhee

Part Five: The Dream Comes True (1957 – 1962)

Before beginning his new life in America, Rhee had to finish one last year in his term of enlistment in the South Korean Army. It was a long twelve months for Rhee, but by November of 1957, he had received his honorable discharge and was flying back to the U.S. When he landed, he had only forty-six dollars in his pocket.

Jhoon Rhee at San Marcos Southwest State College

Jhoon Rhee at San Marcos Southwest State College.

By February of 1958, Rhee had enrolled at San Marcos Southwest State College. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Texas in Austin to study engineering. His plan was to finish his degree there in three years, but in the summer of 1962, he was given an unexpected opportunity—he was offered a job teaching in a karate school in Washington, DC.

His dream was actually coming true. He was living in America, and about to begin teaching martial arts as his profession. However, when he arrived at the DC school, he discovered that there were only six students. Enrollment was so low, in fact, that the school could not even afford to pay Rhee.

Rhee decided to take a bold step. He would open his own martial arts studio. And on June 28, 1962, he did exactly that, founding the very first Jhoon Rhee School of Tae Kwon Do at 2035 K Street NW, Washington, DC.