Hong was born in the countryside of Korea, and grew up helping his parents with their farming. Growing up in the countryside, he was always surrounded by nature and ran around to the mountains and rivers. He started Judo when he was in junior high school and he took up the career as a Judo player since then. He won many titles when he was in high school, thereby he entered University as a Judo athlete and majored in Judo.
He trained very hard for the medal in Olympics and went through numerous matches. However, there was an unfortunate accident that his opponent severely injured during the match, and he was deeply pained by that accident and became disillusioned with the sport, and he quitted Judo and wandered. To ease the pain and find some peace of mind, he started to go back to the mountains that he loved in his childhood. From then on, he was absorbed in the mountains, joined the alpine club and spent all his time climbing and hiking mountains.
After knowing mountains, he began dreaming about becoming a mountain climber and climbing the Himalayas, and the dream and mountains literally dominated his life since then.
His physical strength built up by the Judo training made him stand out when he climb mountains, so he has been picked for the expedition team to the Himalayas. During those Himalayan climbing, he lead the team more than any other members and he started to feel that he has a strong ability to survive and he has a sort of instinctive wildness in him. Those experiences gave him confidence that he can do well on extreme climbing and exploration, so he firmly decided to be a professional mountain climber and polar explorer. He’s been keep challenging much higher, tougher destinations from that time.
He always says that what he decided to challenge Everest and other polar regions was not to searching for something special philosophy. He just wanted to go there. It was the place make him thrilled, excited and eager. “Someone wants to go to the desert, someone want to see Eiffel Tower in France. Like them, I wanted to go to Himalayas and other polar regions. I just followed my instincts and have done I really want to do, and those numerous experiences that I have chosen made my life with no regret and became my own precious memories.”, he said.