By Audrey Davis, Angela Hatcher and Alison Perelman, The Miami Student

MinGi Kang woke up early on Thursday, March 24. His friends had a flight to catch at 7 a.m., and he was the only person willing to drive them. So his alarm went off early, he got dressed, grabbed the keys to the car and drove his friends to the airport.

At 3:45 p.m., just eight hours later, MinGi climbed and fell from the radio tower at
Williams Hall.

A couple weeks earlier, a pair of his friends had a flight at 5 a.m. No one wanted to drive them to the airport. MinGi woke up, got dressed, grabbed keys to the car and
drove his friends.

He was always willing to drive his friends, no matter the time of day. He never asked for anything in return.

“He really knew how to take care of others,” said Ting Zhao, MinGi’s girlfriend of a year and a half. “He helped
people every day.”

As the Miami community — both international and domestic — mourns the passing of MinGi Kang, his compassion, humor and smiling face live on as reminders of who he was and still is to his
friends and family.

MinGi was a gamer at heart — League of Legends was one of his favorites. He liked reading the Harry Potter series, playing soccer and listening to punk music. His favorite bands were Green Day and Nirvana, and he often played their songs on the guitar.

He missed his hometown food but loved going to a Korean BBQ place Uptown with his girlfriend. He was also a good cook — making real Korean stir fry and dumplings — and would often surprise Ting with breakfast when she woke up.

“There’s a lot of memories,” Ting said. “The memories are all good.”

Ting first met MinGi at Tea Cha House. They were both first-years. She lived in Morris; he lived in Stanton. They didn’t realize how close they lived to each other or that they had gone to the same international high school,
HuiJia, in China.

Ting walked into Tea Cha House with a small group of friends and joined MinGi’s much larger group. The only thing she said to him the entire time was “leave” when he stole her chair.

“The second time we saw each other there were more words,” Ting said.

They were in the printing room in Armstrong, and he asked her if she was a HuiJia student. She said yes and the conversation began to flow effortlessly.

It wasn’t until their last night on a trip to New York for their anthropology class that they both realized they had feelings for each other. They didn’t sleep that night. They spent the whole time talking, playing cards and having a pillow fight.

At one point late that night, they left their hotel to go get something to eat. Ting was nervous. New York could be a dangerous place at night, but MinGi walked behind her or by her side the entire time.

“He was always protecting me,” Ting said.

MinGi’s desire to protect Ting extended far beyond staying by her side as they wandered the streets of New York. He was planning to enlist in the Korean army — an obligation for all men in South Korea — after his second year of college.

“He introduced me to his girlfriend a while ago, and we were talking about regular stuff,” said WonTaek Shin, his resident assistant (RA) from his first year. “I’m currently doing the long-distance thing because my girlfriend is in Korea, and he was about to leave for the army, so he was talking about how he was going to do the long-distance and how he was going to manage to balance the relationship.”

But MinGi decided he was going to wait until after he graduated to join so that he and Ting could be together.

MinGi was always helping his friends in any way he could — picking them up when they fell on the ski slopes during their trip, cracking jokes and making them smile with his own.

“We talked about our regular daily lives, and whenever we talked, no matter what kind of day it was or what kind of day he was having, he always was positive, smiling,” said WonTaek.

WonTaek and Ting were among the many students and faculty who attended MinGi’s memorial service on Friday evening in MacMillan Hall.

Only four tables were set up with eight chairs to a table. Soon after the service began, it became clear that there weren’t nearly enough chairs for the amount of people pouring through the door. The students working the memorial rushed to get more chairs and, though around 30 additional chairs were brought out, people still had to stand along the walls.

MinGi loved to smile — that was evident in the slideshow at his memorial. In group photos with friends, you could easily pick him out  because he smiled the widest. Photos and videos on the screen showed some of the best moments of MinGi’s life here at Miami.

The video repeated over and over as people kept coming in. The end of the slideshow read “We love you. We will always remember you.”

Everyone in attendance got up from their seats and went over to a table near the entrance that held three vases filled with white flowers. Each person removed a flower from one of the vases and carried it across the room where they placed it on a memorial table in front of a collage of MinGi. When the two-hour memorial concluded, the vases were empty and the memorial table overflowed with white flowers.

“Being around him was a privilege,” said WonTaek. “And I don’t use the word privilege a lot, but being around him was a privilege that any student can wish for.”