The Winter Games through the eyes of South Koreans in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As thousands of Hoosiers get a close look inside South Korea during the 2018 Winter Games, one group has been sharing their Korean heritage for years.

B.J. Sung, president of Saraga International Grocery Store in Indianapolis, immigrated to the United States from South Korea in the 1990s.

“My birthplace is nearby Pyeongchang,” said Sung. “One hour from Pyeongchang,”

Sung decided to open an international grocery store to share a variety of foods with Hoosiers.

“America is a melting pot,” he said. “Cultures from all around the world.”

Sung works alongside employees from around the world. Last year, he hired a fellow South Korean, 28-year-old Johnny Jung.

“After one of year of junior high school, I decided to come to the United States,” said Jung. He moved to the United States by himself and stayed with host families until college. Then he says he attended the Ohio State University and served for two years in the military.

“Then I went down to South Carolina to finish my accounting degree, and I ended up here in Indianapolis,” he said.

Jung says he’s proud to see South Korea hosting the winter games, a first for the country, which has only hosted the summer games in the past. South Korea placed bids on the winter games in two previous years. The third time was the charm.

“The Olympics means a lot to Korea, and for me too,” said Jung.

Jung says he hopes more Americans will learn about South Korean culture and even try some of its cuisine.

“Korean people like a lot of spicy food,” said Jung, hefting several pounds of red pepper powder in an aisle inside Saraga. “It seems really huge, but we use this a lot so it goes really quickly.”

Jung described a restaurant in South Korea that specializes in extremely spicy food. Friends go and take on the challenge, often filming each other sweating and chugging milk as they try to finish their plates.

“I saw the video and most of the people who cry when they eat it,” Jung said. “The funny thing is even though they cry they say it’s a really good taste. So it’s really ironic.”