Community mourns loss of slain neighbor


Herald Writer

MUKILTEO — Yongsu "Rocky" Kim was the best of neighbors. When his wife and daughter, both talented musicians, sat down at the piano, he would open the windows — neighbors demanded it.

"It was beautiful music," said the Kims’ Mukilteo neighbor, Vivian Black.

Kim, 50, a well-known member of the Puget Sound area’s Korean-American community, was shot and killed Monday by an unknown assailant at the gas station he owned in West Seattle.

Mukilteo’s Harbour Wood community, where he had lived since 1985, is in mourning, said Anne Griffin, who lives across the street from the Kim family.

"The neighborhood is going to go and get a big bouquet," Griffin said.

An employee of Kim’s gas station found him dead from gunshot wounds Monday morning.

Tuesday, Seattle homicide detectives questioned customers and reviewed surveillance tapes taken from Kim’s Texaco station. Police said robbery was a possible motive for the shooting.

Kim, a hard-working businessman and a dedicated family man, was well known for his volunteer efforts helping familiarize Korean and other Asian community members with American culture and with business practices, said state Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds.

"I’ve known him for 20 years," Shin said. "This is not only shocking to the family, but to the entire community.

"He felt like my younger brother to me," Shin added.

Kim, who was born and raised in South Korea, studied electrical engineering in his native country. In 1972 he moved to California.; in 1981, Kim came to Washington and opened Rocky’s Grocery and Deli in Lynnwood. Kim named his grocery store after the popular movie, "Rocky," starring Sylvester Stallone. As years passed, Kim became known by the same name.

"He was a rock," Black said. "That name fit him well. He was solid. He was always cheerful."

As Kim’s small business grew, he vowed to help other Korean business owners. In the early 1980s, he established the Korean American Grocers Association, serving as president three times, said Watson Woo, the association’s executive director.

"If there was a law or some legal issue in a retail area, he helped out small business owners to understand," Woo said.

In 1993, the Northwest Asian Weekly named him Korean-American Man of the Year.

Kim was also a friend to Gov. Gary Locke, whose father ran a small grocery store.

"Mr. Kim built bridges between store owners and the community," said Dana Middleton, a spokeswoman for Locke.

In Harbour Wood, a quiet neighborhood near Kamiak High School, neighbor Karen Hirte said it made her proud to say Kim had been her next-door neighbor.

And Griffin remembered Kim best for the comfort he gave her and her husband, Don.

"Our daughter passed away a year ago," she said. "He spent a lot of time afterward talking to my husband. He was that kind of person."

Services have not yet been scheduled, Shin said.

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