A native of Des Moines, Ben was raised on the ‘near east-side’ of the capital city -- just north of the State Capitol Building. As a young boy, he had a front-row seat watching his parents operate an Asian grocery store not far from the hospital where he was born. In the 1970’s, Jung’s Oriental Food Store was Iowa’s first Asian grocery, attracting customers from all across Iowa and the surrounding states.
While his childhood years are firmly rooted in the other side of the tracks of Des Moines, he attended West Des Moines Community Schools -- completing middle school and high school there. After graduation, Ben stayed in Iowa and began studies at the University of Iowa, earning a B.A. in economics and successfully completing certificate programs in International Business and Economics in May 1993. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Ben postponed graduate studies to work in Seoul, South Korea for the American Embassy in 1994 as an intern for the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service.
Later the same year, Ben began legal studies in Washington D.C. at the American University Washington College of Law. During the final semester of law school, he clerked for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Iowa’s own, Senator Charles Grassley. After being awarded his Juris Doctor in 1997, Ben returned to Des Moines in 1998 to begin a clerkship at the Iowa Utilities Board and ultimately joined the family business later the same year.
While his training may have been to do something professional (a lawyer, for example), he relished opportunities to serve the community with his education and training. These days, Ben is devoted to serving on the Korean Cultural Connection Board and helping grow the Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit as both a Board Member and member of the Planning Team. He is also proud of his work as Chair of the Iowa Commission of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs within the Iowa Department of Human Rights. Ben’s faith in God plays an important role in the decisions he has made, including time contributed as a long-time member at Des Moines First United Methodist Church.
When he is not donating time to the community and minding his small business, Ben enjoys drinking wine. This hobby helps as his small business and day job is being an owner and operator of Ingersoll Wine & Spirits, alongside his parents who began the business. Ben attributes his entrepreneurial roots to his father who just celebrated his 80th birthday in September of 2017. Ben’s younger brother, Tony, currently resides in Alpharetta, Georgia with his wife Min and their three children, Emily, Jenna and Joseph.
West Des Moines, IA