Monica & Kiyoung
Interviewer: Daniel Lee &
Editor : Na Hyun Kim
Photographer : Lukey Moon
Location : Coffee Factory
You probably know this very attractive couple as one of the many embodiments of #RelationshipGoals at Crystal. With their perfect smiles, beautiful babies, and inspiring faith, you could say they have it all.
We wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes outside of church, and were super blessed in the exchange. Get to know Monica and Kiyoung — two devoted parents who share a big 'ole heart for food, wanderlust, and doing great things for Christ.
Daniel: How would you describe yourselves in three words?
Monica: Can we describe each other?
Crystal: Yeah, that’s fine. We can start with you (Kiyoung), What three words describe Monica?
M: You’d think after ten years it comes faster. [laughs] We’re both like ‘hmm’ [laughs]
I think I got his. I’ll give him more time. So, I think for Kiyoung, he’s very dedicated to whatever it is. Whether it’s faith, as a friend, serving church. And then, I would say ... he’s very sincere. And I don’t think people know this, but he’s very funny.
D: Funny in what way?
M: Just as a jokester. Sarcastic, witty comments. It just comes out in conversation and when he feels comfortable with people. We have a lot of funny inside jokes.
Kiyoung: (Back to the original question) I would say, she’s very ambitious. And she is uh, what’s the word … [long pause]
Organized. What’s another word for organized?
M: A planner.
K: Yeah, a planner.
D: Do you manage everything?
M: A little bit. You kinda have to. Kids’ schedules. Family stuff. Someone’s gotta play that role. It’s in my DNA. Type A personality.
D: How did you guys meet?
M: This is a great plug for SooJung. We met at church. So, if you’re dedicated and you come to church, you’ll meet your spouse there. Just kidding.
I started coming my freshman year of college, and that’s when we first met. He was a Sunday school teacher. I was a youth group teacher. One of our mutual friends actually brought me to church. Back then, our EM was smaller so we used to kind of hang out in group settings. And then sparks just … [All laugh]
D: How old were you when this happened?
M: When we first started dating? Oh, I was 19.
D: You were still in college right?
M: Yeah, beginning of junior year.
D: Was Pastor Steve still there?
M: He was our EM pastor. He played an instrumental role in bringing us together.
D: Tell me about the EM and your roles in the ministry back then.
K: I was part of the Sunday school ministry at that time. That was like a couple years after I came back from college, so at that time I was very involved in Sunday school. Before that, I was actually in youth group ministry as well.
D: Wow, you had a lot of roles at SooJung.
M: He’s been going there since … what year?
K: So, basically this would be my uh … 30th year at Crystal.
M: It was founded before this location.
K: The church was founded in 1986. I started coming in 1987.
D: Where was the original location?
K: In Ozone Park. In southern Queens. 101st Ave Woodhaven Blvd.
D: So did you grow up in that church?
K: Yeah, pretty much.
D: When did you first attend SooJung?
K: Oct 27, 1987.
M: You were born then, weren’t you [Daniel]?
M: That’s pretty sad.
K: SooJung back then was obviously very different. Some of the people are kind of still around especially in the KM ministry. Volleyball was huge back then too. The old church actually had a gym.
M: He was a rockstar. Center receiver.
K: We went out like 9 o'clock in the morning and then played ‘till like midnight.
D: Wow you guys were really serious. Competitive.
M: This is before like computers, the Internet, and phones and all that. We actually spent time physically, all day, with people. It was the volleyball culture days. It was a big deal.
D: Do you still play?
K: Not really. Not good for my joints.
D: Do you have any hobbies ?
M: When we have time for them.
Well, photography for him. Definitely for the both of us, I would say, traveling. I like to read although I don’t have a lot of time to do it.
D: Have you guys travelled anywhere recently?
M: Yeah, we try to travel a lot as a family.
K: The last trip we had, we went to Amish town.
M: Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We took the kids for winter break.
D: Anything overseas?
M: We’re going next month to Spain. That’s our next trip. We try to take one international trip at least once a year.
D: What do you guys do?
K: I’ll go first, mine’s easier [laughs]. Pediatric dentist.
D: How long have you been doing that?
K: I finished my residency in 2011, so it’s been 6 years now.
D: Do you like what you’re doing? What part of your job do you love?
K: I mean, obviously when you think of a dentist, you kind of equate them with pain. But you are there to alleviate pain from the patients and restore their function, in terms of their eating and stuff. So in that aspect, you know, it’s worthwhile. I mean, if you think about what you’re doing, it’s actually making things better for the kids. Because of the diet nowadays, you know, there’s so many refined sugars, candies, and juices, there’s a lot of heavy cases where they need a lot of work. So, I feel like I’m doing something to help things.
D: I notice you go on mission trips and serve that way too.
K: Yeah, I think God has given me some talent including this, so I’m trying to utilize it for His glory. But going on missions, for me, is actually a fun thing. It’s not a hard choice to make, because I feel like I’m going on an adventure. And it just kind of helps me to kind of get away and put my mind on things that have more purpose too - to do His work. When you go there, you kind of forget about all your stresses and everything else, and just doing stuff. At the same, God blesses you and the whole team actually. So, it’s just a great opportunity and I always look forward to going. It’s always a humbling experience and I’m glad to be a part of it.
M: Mine’s very simple. I’m in marketing for a biopharma company.
D: Did you always want to do that?
M: Uhhh … no. A lot of people who have known me for a long time actually thought I was going to be an anchorwoman.
D; I could see that.
M: Or a journalist. Yeah, I really admired Christiane Amanpour. She’s an international reporter for CNN. So that’s kind of what I envisioned in college. I had worked at CNN when I was in college and done internships for FOX, KTLA, and stuff. You know, the actual world of being in news was very different from what I’d imagined. So, for me it was a personal decision. We were dating at the time and I knew I wanted to marry Kiyoung, settle down, and have a family. So I couldn't envision the lifestyle required in my career - like moving once every year like all around the country or the world. Actually, Kiyoung’s best friend brought me into his company at the time which was a pharmaceutical company, so it’s been 15 years in the industry.
D: Wow. So it seems like you really enjoy it.
M: Yeah, I love what I do.
D: Do you interact with people everyday?
M: I do, yeah. I mean, I work in the office. For the past five years, I’ve been in the oncology space, working on cancer drugs. It’s a very personal and passionate topic for me. I really feel like what I do makes a difference. We lost my father-in-law … it’s been 9 years now. He lost his battle with lung cancer, and the drug that I work on now is for lung cancer.
D: That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that.
D: When did you guys actually come into faith with Christ? When was the first time you encountered God in your life?
M: For me, it was the summer of 7th grade going into 8th grade. I actually grew up in the Catholic church, but God never felt personal. The Catholic church felt like a dungeon - dark and impersonal. Just more focused on the rituals and the traditions. Go to confessional every Sunday and whatever. Then when I moved back to NY from NJ, my uncle brought me to his church. It was my first retreat. That was actually the first time I heard God speak to me, and I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. That was the start of my personal relationship with Christ.
K: For me, it was more of a gradual process. I actually don't know the time or date of my accepting Christ. It felt like I always feared God growing up. I mean, it could’ve been sometime in my elementary days. I used to go to church by myself when I was younger, in Korea. It was just like a 20 minute walk from my house. I had my offering money with me. I know that some other kids would go to the store and buy stuff with that money, but I - for some reason - always needed to bring that money and give it to church. I guess I had that fear of God in me. That kind of made me do things, I guess. Ever since then, I think the teachers took care of me and led me in the right direction. I give credit to all those people who came into my life. That’s how I became who I am, I guess.
D; Your faith grew over time.
K: Yeah, it was more like a gradual thing, not a radical transformation.
D: Are there any pet peeves we should know about?
M: [Sighs] The one thing for me is bad drivers. And I have germophobic tendencies.
K: Do I have any pet peeves?
M: I think you don't really have a key pet peeve. I think it’s just generally like inconsiderateness, right?
K: A lot of the times … the parents I have to deal with (at work). You know, explaining treatments and things like that. It’s just baby teeth, you know? Why do (they) have to do all this stuff? [laughs] 'Why did you bother bringing them here?' [laughs] Some of those conversations with parents kind of annoy me.
D: What's your favorite food?
K: I like all kinds of foods actually. I like meat dishes - steak.
M: I love food. It’s hard to narrow it down.
K: Noodles! I love noodles. Nengmyun, pasta, whatever it is, any kind of noodles. Noodle would be my number one choice.
M: I would say my favorite is Italian.
Na Hyun Kim, a.k.a. Nana, is your average amplified millennial. You can easily make her day by dropping comments about how 'Brooklyn’ she looks. Legally, her first name is ‘Na’ and middle name ‘Hyun’, so she’s pretty irked whenever she sees ‘Ms. Na Kim’ on her boarding ticket.