Robber snuffed out rising culinary star
By Graham Kates and Sarina Trangle
In the two months before Hwang Yang was murdered on April 19, he had taken a giant step toward achieving his dream of becoming a chef at a high-end kitchen in his native South Korea.
The 26-year-old cook landed a job at The Modern restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art, as a garde manger. He worked late into the night preparing amuse bouche and cold plates for the fine dining restaurant.
Friends and family said that Mr. Yang, a graduate of the David A. Stein Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141, was often driven home from the No. 1 train by his parents. When he walked, they often waited up, concerned that the midnight commutes might be unsafe.
Just past midnight on April 19, their worst fears were realized. Police said Mr. Yang was likely mugged for his iPhone and in the ensuing moments, shot in the chest.
Mr. Yang’s parents had already become worried by the time police knocked on their door around 1:30 a.m., according to his cousin, Peter Han. Their concern turned to “just, devastation,” said Mr. Han, 30.
Ji Park, a friend of the victim’s family, said Mr. Yang was originally from Seoul, South Korea and got his Green Card about two years ago. Speaking to the press inside Aladdin Cleaners, at 3258 Johnson Ave. where Mr. Yang’s uncle works, she said Mr. Yang attended culinary school in Manhattan before becoming a chef and was known for being proud of his self-reliance.
Friends said that in his off-hours, Mr. Yang was a photography enthusiast. A portrait on his Facebook page shows Mr. Yang hunched over the viewfinder of a digital single-lens reflex camera, intensely examining a photo.
While Mr. Yang worked hard at both his occupation and hobby, Jooeun Suh, a friend of Mr. Yang’s who placed flowers on the block where he died, said she remembered her high school friend as popular and affable.
“He has a lot of friends, he’s talkative ... in high school he was quiet, but among Korean friends he was really popular. Most girls and most guys in [Riverdale’s] Korean community know him,” Ms. Suh said.