Dog Stars of Asian American Business

Ping Fu

Kenneth Fong


Tae Yun Kim

Feng Xiaogang

Dale Minami



(February 2, 1946)

ot only is Tae Yun Kim a dog, she is also the mother of a dog. In 1982 Kim and several students started Lighthouse Solutions Worldwide, a company that has grown to a leadership position in designing and building air and water quality monitoring solutions for hi-tech manufacturing plants. The more “micro” chips become, the more fatal is even the most minute particle of dust. Today Lighthouse's open-architecture software for controlling equipment to monitor particulate contaminants is vital to many leading manufacturers of semiconductors and other miniaturized components.

     Kim is also a taekwondo grandmaster who founded the Jun Su school of martial arts. That's truly remarkable given her 4' 11" frame and the fact that teaching taekwondo has traditionally been an exclusively male domain. But then Kim's spirit is as oversized as her frame is undersized. Since birth to peasant parents who despised her for being a girl, Kim has been overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. As a little girl her life was saved by an older friend who was blown up by a bomb moments later as the pair was fleeing the perils of the Korean War. Without money or parental support Kim managed to receive black-belt training in takewondo, receive an education, immigrate to the U.S. and start Lighthouse. Today she spends much of her energies teaching other women to do what she had done as a little girl — to take charge of their lives and realize their dreams.


ou could say director Feng Xiaogang is too honest to make the traditional Chinese martial arts fantasies and too loyal to his audience to make arthouse movies with limited appeal. But he certainly isn't too noble to turn out movies that translate into box office. That's why Feng is now considered China's most popular director and will likely lead the way in making Chinese cinema popular with mainstream Americans who aren't fans of the martial arts genre.

     Feng takes pride in keying every plot to a present-day social reality. A Sigh (2000) exposes how seemingly happy families can hide the treacherous deceptions of extramarital affairs. Big Shot's Funeral (2002) satirizes the extent to which consumers have been turned into accomplices to remorselessly, not to say tastelessly, aggressive marketing tactics. Cell Phone (2003) shows how much dangerous personal information resides inside those ubiquitous devices. More recently in acclaimed films like A World Without Theives (2004), Feng looks soberly at the conflict between material ambitions and deeper values. It seems only a matter of time before Feng makes a triumphant return to the U.S. where he began his career in 1991 by shooting the wildly popular series Beijingers in New York.


Dale Minami
(October 13, 1946)

arly in his career Dale Minami made a name for himself by representing Asian Americans in high-profile civil rights cases. The most famous was Korematsu v. United States. During World War II Fred Korematsu had disobeyed a World War II order aimed at excluding Japanese Americans from obtaining jobs outside of internment camps and was convicted. In 1944 that conviction was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1983 Minami led a team of lawyers to reopen the case through a writ of coram nobis. They persuaded District Judge Marilyn Patel to overturn Fred Korematsu's 40-year-old conviction. Another of Minami's civil rights triumphs was Nakanishi v. UCLA, a suit that resulted in the granting of tenure to pioneering Asian American Studies professor Don Nakanishi. That period of Minami's career is an excellent example of the nobility that motivates dog people.

     In more recent years Minami and his partners in the San Francisco firm of Minami, Lew and Tamaki have focused on more lucrative areas. Since being admitted to the California Bar in 1972, Minami's best source of income had been personal injury cases. As his reputation grew in the Asian American community, he has been able to move up to handling cases involving death and serious injuries. His prominence in the community eventually led to representing celebrities. Among Minami's famous entertainment law clients are Olympic Gold Medalist skater Kristi Yamaguchi, CNN anchor Erica Hill, KPIX morning anchor Sydnie Kohara and KRON's Wendy Tokuda, among numerous others. Various publications have recognized Minami as one of California's top lawyers.

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“In 1983 Minami led a team of lawyers to reopen the case through a writ of coram nobis. They persuaded District Judge Marilyn Patel to overturn Fred Korematsu's 40-year-old conviction.”


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