Edgewater doctor is being sued by a woman in South Korea who claims she is his daughter and that he abandoned her 42 years ago.
Juhee Myung said in her lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Hackensack that she led a hard life with her ailing mother while Dr. Kwang Ha Myung married another woman, began a new life in the U.S. and pursued a successful career in radiology — all while building a reputation for charity and humanitarian work worldwide.
She also claims she tracked down her father three years ago and informed him by phone that she was diagnosed with cancer, but that he abandoned her once again despite promising to return to South Korea to visit her and pay for her medical expenses.
Juhee Myung seeks court-ordered blood and DNA paternity testing and a judgment declaring Kwang Myung is her biological and legal father. She also seeks child support arrears and other damages for emotional distress.
“She is devastated because she was abandoned twice by her own father, when she was 7 and once again in 2011,” said Christine Bae, a Fort Lee attorney representing Juhee Myung. “Her life has been in turmoil in caring for herself and her mother throughout her life.”
Kwang Myung did not answer his phone Monday at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System in New York City, where he is a cancer expert. His attorney, Joonil Lee in Palisades Park, declined to comment on Monday.
Juhee Myung said in her lawsuit that she was born out of wedlock in the South Korean capital of Seoul in 1966 and lived a happy life with her mother and father. That was until March 1973, when she returned from school one day to learn her mother was in the hospital recovering from a failed suicide by an overdose of pills, the lawsuit said. Her mother had tried to kill herself after learning Kwang Myung had married another woman, left his work in South Korea and moved out of the country without a trace, the lawsuit said.
It said Juhee Myung’s mother survived, but continued to suffer from depression and other mental health problems until she died in 1994.
“From the age of seven until [her mother’s] death, Juhee had to care for her mother,” which deprived her of her childhood, her chances to atten college and to feel the many joys of life, the lawsuit said.
It said Kwang Myung never returned to South Korea and has not provided financially for his daughter.
According to the website of the VA New York Harbor Health Care System, Kwang has “followed his heart” since 2001 “by traveling … to donate his time and clinical skills to needy patients in Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Mexico, Africa, Central Asia, China and other developing countries.”
In April 2011, Juhee Myung located her father with the help of an uncle and got Kwang Myung on the phone, during which he said he was planning to retire and visit South Korea, the lawsuit said. Two months later, Juhee Myung spoke to her father by phone, this time informing him she had been diagnosed with cancer, the lawsuit said. It said Kwang Myung advised her to visit a more reputable — and more expensive — hospital.
“Kwang unambiguously promised to pay for the medical care at the larger hospital,” the lawsuit said.
Following that advice, Juhee Myung incurred higher expenses to go to the larger hospital, where her cancer was confirmed, the lawsuit said. But, it said, when she called Kwang Myung to inform him of the results, he vanished again and never returned her calls and even changed his phone number.