Allen Hyunwoo Park ’23, a Cornell sophomore with an enthusiasm for music and an adventurous spirit, died on Wednesday. He was 20.
Park died as a result of injuries he sustained at his apartment complex. His friends and former coaches remember Park as outgoing, warm and willing to listen. Several, including Jay Lee ’23 and Michael Sun-Huang ’23, viewed him as family.
“His mere presence was comfort to many of us,” said Megan Jung ’23. “Allen was like a brother to me.”
Park attended the Horace Mann School in the Bronx before coming to Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences. He had not yet declared a major, but he poured himself into several campus clubs, including the Korean American Students Association, the Engineering Career Fair Team and the Korean Student Association. His friends described his lifelong interests in food, fashion and music.
Olivia Kim ’23, who grew up with Park in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, served alongside him as a freshman representative for KASA. She recalled him breaking the silence and comforting them all while the hopeful representatives awaited their election results.
“He was really good at making conversations that actually make people feel comfortable and close to him,” Kim said.
Lee described Park as a lifelong friend and a music connoisseur, remembering his fun-loving personality and the way he looked after his friends. Lee recalled a specific night of running down Libe Slope, which was slick from the rain. When she lost her phone, Park spent an hour helping her find it.
“He knew when to have fun, but he also didn’t mind leaving the party to create a private space for you and him to catch up,” Lee wrote to The Sun. “I don’t think I can ever find someone more authentic and intentional than Allen.”
Soo Oh ’24 recalled how Park cared for his friends when they were struggling. She described him as caring, loving and an excellent listener.
“He was a one in a million kind of friend,” Oh wrote.
Park’s former coaches described him as a dedicated team player, always going out of his way to help the people around him.
Michael Duffy, Park’s high school swim coach at Horace Mann, remembered him switching events mid-meet despite his qualifying time to let another swimmer participate.
“He was a great teammate and a good friend to everybody on the team,” Duffy said.
Park’s high school soccer coach of four years, Greg Quilty, also remembered his kind and caring nature. He said he admired Park’s positive attitude and enjoyed talking with him about their favorite team, Chelsea FC.
One passion that grew throughout Park’s time at Cornell was music, according to Sun-Huang, who knew Park since they were in sixth grade together and became his roommate after Sun-Huang transferred from Boston College.
“We had an amazing first semester together,” Sun-Huang said. “He introduced me to every single person I know here.”
Together, Sun-Huang and Park often listened to their favorite musicians, including Smino, Kota the Friend, Jay-Z and Stevie Wonder. Sun-Huang described how Park updated his speakers and began producing more of his own music over the past year, sharing it with his close friends and uploading a few tracks to SoundCloud.
Park’s other friends, including Kim, described driving through Ithaca and listening to music together, his favorite songs playing through their group hangouts.
“He had the most refined music taste that encapsulated a wide spectrum,” Lee wrote. “He knew exactly what song you would like.”
Oh remembered how excited Park was to show off his production equipment over winter break.
“He told me he wanted to make music so he can reach audiences around the world,” Jung wrote to The Sun, “and tell everyone that they aren’t alone.”
Park’s adventurous spirit led him to experiment with fashion and reach for new experiences, Kim said. She recounted discovering new Ithaca restaurants with Park during the spring semester, trying out everything from high-end eateries to diners.
Oh described Park as a “family man,” taking great pride in his grandparents’ cooking skills and expressing his excitement in having a family of his own one day. Several of his friends, including Jackson Kwon ’23, noted Park’s pride in his Korean heritage.
Kwon bonded with Park most at KSA socials and in Korean 2210, a Cornell class for intermediate heritage speakers. During and outside of class, they engaged in deep conversations about their lives.
“He had a very impactful presence,” Kwon said. He recalled Park’s optimism as their friend group prepared to leave Cornell in March 2020, following the University’s decision to shut down.
According to Kwon and Oh, Park was planning to take a gap year next school year. From their recent conversations, Kwon said that Park wanted to figure out what direction to take his life.
“I just wish that people remember Allen for all the good and the positivity that he brought into their lives,” Kim said. “I hope that people are able to embrace that spirit that he perpetuated every single day.”
Oh expressed her sadness that she won’t graduate with Park, but said she was grateful to have known him.
“He isn’t just another unfortunate death,” Oh wrote. “He is a younger brother, a son, a grandson, a boyfriend and the best friend of many, including myself. He had dreams, passions and love to give. He is special, and he should be remembered that way.”
Students in need of professional mental health support can call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 607-255-5155 and employees can call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CAPS and FSAP services are currently being delivered via telehealth. Whenever these services are closed, calls are answered by Cornell Health’s on-call mental health provider. The Ithaca-based Crisisline is also available at 607-272-1616. A wide range of supportive resources is also available at caringcommunity.cornell.edu.