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Dr. Ki-Hyun Chun's service to the Charlotte community will never be matched. He credits his impact to his faith and to three pillars.

Faith and the Three Pillars

Ki-Hyun Chun, Ph.D., LL.D., CCIM, CPA

Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Chun Group, Inc.

Dr. Ki-Hyun Chun is a man of great success, whose impact on the Charlotte community—and the Asian American community in particular — is unmatched. One of the first Asian American CPAs in the Southeast, Chun has operated his own successful accounting firm in Charlotte since 1983. It is his selfless service to the community, however, that distinguishes Chun. He helped establish the first Asian American church in North Carolina, founded the first Asian American newspaper in the state, and is founder of the largest private Asian library east of the Mississippi, the Carolinas Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and Chun University.

Ki-Hyun Chun chooses not to be defined by his successes or discouraged by his failures. Rather, what defines him are his faith and three pillars that have guided him throughout a life that started out in privilege, saw his family lose everything, and eventually landed him in Charlotte.

Dr. Chun’s three pillars:
  1. Have a positive perspective in life, giving thanks to the Lord in all things.
  2. Serve others.
  3. Knowledge is power.
The First Pillar: Positivity

Ki-Hyun Chun as a child-2.jpgBorn to a wealthy aristocratic family in North Korea, Chun had a privileged upbringing as a child. His grandfather was the regional governor, had an interest in the import/export industry, and owned vast amounts of land—all of which had seemed to secure the family fortunes for generations. Chun’s life, however, was not without its hardships. After the Communist regime took over the North, though, Chun’s family faced imprisonment and persecution. The Chun family met all three criteria decreed by the Communist party leaders as belonging to the enemies of the people. The Chuns were landowners, well-educated, and Christian. Chun’s father and mother were highly educated, as they had both graduated from universities in Japan, a privilege very few Koreans could access during Japan’s colonization of Korea. Chun’s family was able to escape the Communist regime in the North, and was able to rebuild their wealth and influence in the South.

Nonetheless, adversity would soon befall the family again. Chun’s father ran against President Park, and President Park imprisoned his father and confiscated all of the family’s assets. The family found themselves destitute in one day. Chun remembers that he and his siblings had to sleep in a tent because the government had taken their house away. His younger brothers being too young to understand what was happening, thought they were having fun camping.

Chun credits his family’s ability to endure these adversities to their Christian faith. Chun says his personal faith in God passed down to him by his grandparents and parents compelled him not only to endure, but to succeed. The first Protestant church in Korea was established in 1884, and his grandparents and parents were among the very first Christians in Korea. He states very plainly about his faith when he says, “Everything I have is by the grace of God.” Because of Chun’s steadfast faith and belief that all things are from the grace of God rather than his own merit, he chooses to be thankful in all things, and to serve and share with others with a grateful heart. Therefore his faith and his first pillar in life to stay positive and give thanks to the Lord in all things are closely related.

The Chuns on their wedding day-2.jpgWhen Chun was attending one of the Ivy League colleges of South Korea, Korea University, as a young man, he won a full scholarship to study in the United States. His journey to the U.S. was made possible by J.D. Fitz, the publisher of The News Herald in Morganton, NC, whose Rotary Club sponsored Chun as an international ambassadorial scholar. Through the Rotary Club, Chun had a full scholarship to attend nearby Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then obtained a Master of Arts degree at Appalachian State University and a Ph.D. at LaSalle University. Chun became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and in 1983 opened his own accounting firm in Charlotte.

The Second Pillar: Service

Dr. Chun's sense of responsibility to serve others came early in life. The most influential person in this regard was his father, who told him that there are three kinds of people in the world. First is a man who people are glad to learn of his passing because of the harm he caused in life. Second is a man people do not notice is gone, because he lived only for himself. Third is a man that many people mourn when he is gone, because he lived to benefit others. His father always told him to be the third kind of man.

Chun has dedicated much of his time and resources to serving his community. He lives by the words of John F. Kennedy, Jr. who said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."  In August of 1977,  he helped establish Charlotte Presbyterian Church, the first Asian American church in North Carolina In October of 1985, Chun founded the Asian Library. Twelve years later, he received the “Heroes of Democracy” award from the Charlotte Observer for establishing the Asian Library. At that time, the Asian Library had 65,000 Asian-language books available to the public. (In comparison, the Charlotte Public Library had 11,000 Asian-language books, Duke University's library had 45,000, and UNC Chapel Hill’s library had 118,000. Today, the Asian Library has over 132,000 Asian-language books.

In 1993, Chun established the Asian Herald, which was printed in English, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

In 1999, Chun founded the Carolinas Asian American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC) with a vision of fostering cooperation and interaction within the Asian community. Chun credits most of the CAACC's success to fellow pioneering members Dr. Eumelia Nini Bautista de Garcia (“Dr. Nini”) and Dr. John Chen (pictured with Dr. and Mrs. Chen in the photo gallery below). Chun states that Dr. Nini and Dr. Chen have put their heart and soul into the CAACC and honors their service to the organization. The CAACC is one of the most influential organizations that represents a substantial Asian American presence in Charlotte consisting of over 100,000 people and 17 different ethnicities.

< IMAGE: Dr. Chun receives the 2009 Richard Vinroot International Achievement Award from Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory.

CAACC has also since launched the Charlotte Dragon Boat Association in 2005, Charlotte Asian Heritage Association (CAHA) in 2006, and the Carolinas Asian American Chamber of Commerce Foundation (CAACCF) in 2021, which is the publisher of

In 2009, the City of Charlotte awarded Dr. Chun the Richard Vinroot International Achievement Award for his service to the Charlotte community.

Dr. Chun also serves on the Board of Trustees at his alma mater of Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he also received an honorary doctorate in 2000, the Board of Advisors at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Board of Directors/Life Member of Opera Carolina. In the past, he has served on the Board of Advisors at Atrium Health, the Board of Directors for Bank of Granite, and Chairman of the Supporting Committee for the Korean Christian Council of the World, a membership that consists of 75,000 Korean churches around the world. He has also been the Ruling Elder of the Charlotte Korean Presbysterian Church since 1978. Chun also taught as a professor in various colleges for 16 years, including 9 years as an adjunct professor at Johnson C. Smith University. In 2014, Chun founded Chun University, which continues to grow to this day.


The Third Pillar: Knowledge

Not unusual for the period in Korea, Ki-Hyun Chun’s father was quite strict. What was unusual about his father, though, was that he was strict in emphasizing the importance of education and reading. Chun says anecdotally that his father would not let him eat until he finished the books his father had assigned to him to read for the day.

Although Chun says that as a child he neither understood his father’s methods nor relished having to face the sight of books, as an adult he has come to fully appreciate his father. Chun’s father set a goal for him to read 5,000 books during his lifetime. Six years ago, Chun reached that goal and kept his lifetime promise to his hero.

Chun’s decision to come to the U.S. stemmed from his desire to continue his father’s emphasis on education. He was attracted to the U.S. because he understood that this country is governed by the law, while in Korea, the country was ruled—as he and his family experienced directly—by man. He also saw the U.S. as the most generous country in the world. Often, the U.S. was the “first responder” to step in when countries in the world needed help. In addition, South Korea was still in turmoil, so he took the opportunity to come to the U.S. and built his life anew.

Chun believes that the emphasis on education that his father instilled within him and the requirement that he read so many books, provided him with the knowledge and critical thinking skills that has contributed to his business acumen and success as a business consultant. His father’s legacy continues into the next generation, as all three of Chun’s children have become successful lawyers in their respective areas of law.



Dr. Ki-Hyun and Dr. Sunny Chun

As a Golden Wedding Anniversary gift, Dr. Chun abd his wife Sunny received thtis life-sized portrait from their children. The artist is Anastasia Egeli, whose grandfather, Bjorn Egeli, painted portraits of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur, and several Supreme Court justices. All of Bjorn’s children, including Cedric, Anastasia’s father, became artists themselves. Cedric, in particular, went on to establish an important portrait and teaching practice, and was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Maryland governor Larry Hogan.

Dr. Ki-Hyun and Sunny Chun.jpg

Dr. Chun's Tips for Success

When asked to provide any helpful tips to success in life, Chun offers the following. He says to have the courage to pour your heart into whatever you endeavor to do. When you undertake a task with passion, it changes people around you.

In college, a football player bullied Chun in school, because Chun would always ask for a little more time to complete his exams. This irritated the football player and led him to ridicule Chun, giving him the nickname “Five more minutes.” But Chun was determined to excel in his studies because he was required to maintain a certain grade point average or risk losing his full scholarship. This bully also noticed how Chun would skip lunch to save his money. He asked Chun why he would do such a thing—to which Chun answered that he was saving his money for books and would one-day build a formidable collection into a library.

The bully gave him a second nickname: “Big Mouth.” Decades later, this bully came across Chun’s story in an article in the Charlotte Observer regarding his “Hero of Democracy” award for collecting 65,000 Asian-language books. The former bully had become a pastor of a Lutheran church in Stanley County, NC. The pastor was so moved by the story that he called Chun to apologize and nominated Chun to receive an honorary doctorate degree from their alma mater.

Chun’s next tip for success in life is to hope for and find the blessing of a spouse who shares your vision. He believes that having such a spouse is integral to personal and professional success. Chun and his wife Sunny celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past year. This gift of the painting (above) is a gesture of the honor and respect that their children have for their parents and their intent to carry their parents’ legacy of faith and service to future generations.

These practical tips plus Chun’s faith and three pillars to live by have made Chun the man he is today. No one can doubt that he has indeed fulfilled his father’s calling to be the "third" type of person who has lived a life serving others. Dr. Chun notes that he has much more to offer the community in the years to come.


Family Is Paramount

Just as Dr. Chun's family was important to shaping his life, he and his wife Sunny placed a priority on raising their children right. And so their legacy continues not just in the contributions to the Charlotte community, but through their children.

Dr. Sun Shin “Dr Sunny” Chun MA, LL. D,
Chief Financial Officer, Chun Group
Editor, Asian Herald
CEO, Chun University


Lena Chun Lee, Esq.
Former In-House Attorney, American Transit Insurance, NY
General Practice, Law Office of Lena Chun Lee, Charlotte Vice President. Chun University
Spouse: Danny Lee, publisher, Sports Illustrated
Children: Ellie, Alyssa

Lisa Chun Birkos, Esq.
Sr. Attorney, Detention Project, National Immigration Justice Center, Chicago
Spouse: Steve Birkos, Esq., Patent Attorney, Chicago
Children: Luke, Audrey

Daniel Chun, CPA, JD, Esq, LLM, MAc 
Director of International Tax, Under Armour, Baltimore
Spouse: Julia Kim, Chief of Staff, Office of Senator Barbara A. Favola
Children: Sebastian


Dr. Ki-Hyun Chun Korea Carolinas Asian American Chamber Asian Library