LHS graduate commits to service

Published 12:50 pm Thursday, June 1, 2017

Justin Joo, a South Korea native, has joined the United States Marine Corps. He will report for duty in January. Submitted Photo

By: Shayla Terry

Even though he just graduated two weeks ago, Justin Joo committed to a career years ago — the United States Marine Corps.

Joo, a native of South Korea, moved to Luverne when he was 13 years old.

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“At first, I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “I didn’t speak any English. One time a teacher asked me my name, and I just wondered what she wanted from me.”

Joo says it took a bit of time, but once he got to know everyone life was easy here.

“All of the people were nice,” he said. “They’re just friendly here, and I eventually felt comfortable.”

Joo’s parents, Kwangil Joo and Yung Hi Kim, brought their family —Joo has a younger sister, Yeon Gin— to the United States for a better life.

“My daddy came here first to get to know the area,” Joo said. “He said it was fine, and here we are. There’s better education, better jobs, and a better future for us here.”

When it came time for him to decide a path after high school, Joo took the route that was equivalent to his Korean upbringing.

“In Korea, we do the draft,” Joo said. “So, men join the military when they are 19 or 20 years old. Around the Koreans if you’re a man and you don’t go to the military, then you are not a man anymore.”

“I heard that the U.S. military is nice, and has good pay,” he said. “So I joined.”

Joo’s first choice was to join the Army’s special forces, but that faction only takes U.S. citizens. With his green card in tow, Joo went with the Marines.

Before he reports for duty in January, Joo has decided to attend Troy University in Troy for a semester.

“I’m very excited about Troy because it is an international university,” he said. “It’s not far from home, and they have the major that I’m interested in.”

Joo plans to major in criminal justice while at Troy. Before deciding on the Marines, Joo had interests in becoming a police officer.

Now, maybe I can do it while serving,” he said. “It would also enjoy it once my military career ends.