RHEE, Min-hi was an early pioneer of taekwondo in the United States in the San Francisco area. He is the father of actor/director Phillip Rhee.
Excerpted from A Killing Art: The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do:
- "...Also in exile was Kim Dae-jung, the democrat who likely would have beaten President Park Chung-hee in the 1971 South Korean election if the election had been fair... The Organization of Korean Studies in Berkeley, California, had booked Kim to speak in a hall in the International Student Centre at 7: 30 on the evening of May 18, 1973.
- "...The hall was extremely tense, mainly because a dozen dubious characters wandered in and out of the lobby. Who were they? The KCIA chief, Yang Doo-wan, knew. He had sent a KCIA operative, Bae Young-shik, from Los Angeles to the San Francisco hall. Bae was both vice-consul of the Korean Consulate in L.A. and a KCIA agent.
- "[The audience] livened up when Kim Dae-jung entered the hall, accompanied by four bodyguards. Also in the hall was a Tae Kwon Do instructor, Rhee Min-hi, who had trained in Kong Soo Do at the Jidokwan, one of the nine important gyms in South Korea. Rhee was a powerful man in the San Francisco area, especially after South Korea awarded him with one of its highest medals for his services in the Korean community in the United States in the early 1970s. In San Francisco, he oversaw a martial arts gym on Polk Street, ran a travel agency, and was head of a broadcasters' association. Some people suspected that he was a KCIA operative, but Rhee denied it. However, he did not like Kim Dae-jung's criticism of Korea and he hated Kim's proposal of reuniting North and South, an idea that smacked of communism. Also, Kim had been claiming that the South Korean government was out to assassinate him — a ridiculous allegation, in Rhee's view, because if Korea had wanted to kill Kim, then why had it allowed him to leave South Korea?
- "Rhee did not know that there were ten other martial artists in the hall. He installed himself at the back while Kim Dae-jung walked up to the microphone and the crowd clapped heartily. As Kim began speaking, Rhee interrupted him.
- "'Why do you criticize the head of our nation?' Rhee yelled, marching to the front. 'You should fight in Korea! Don't stir up good compatriots here!' Rhee did not want Kim to say negative things about Korea, and he climbed onto the stage, making it to the podium. Bodyguards rushed at Rhee and pushed him away, and the hall erupted into yells. Scarier than the melee was the fact that there was a man taking photos and filming the audience with a camera... The man taking photos in the hall was a KCIA agent."