INTERVIEW: Gunhee Park
Founder, Ministry of Hemp
Austin, Texas, USA
Gunhee Park is the founder of Ministry of Hemp, a new platform aimed at popularizing hemp and hemp products. A graduate of Arizona State University with a business degree in supply chain & operations, he previously worked in high tech before developing a passion for hemp that caused him to leave his day job to concentrate solely on his hemp startup.
HempToday: What are your goals for Ministry of Hemp?
Gunhee Park: Ministry of Hemp was founded to share the truth about this amazing plant. There have been so many misconceptions and controversies around hemp over the past 70-80 years. My goal is to build a platform to “rebrand” hemp for everyone who is missing out. Hemp has been a niche ingredient that is only popular among groups such as sustainability advocates and alternative healing specialists. I want to change that.
Even today, there are so many misconceptions surrounding hemp. When you mention hemp to friends and family, many will think you’re associating yourself with drugs. This is a sad situation considering all the positive impacts hemp can have on our society. So I would encourage the viewers to actively share their knowledge of hemp with their friends to spread the awareness of this plant. That will be the fastest and most effective way that this movement can grow.
HT: How did you get interested in hemp?
GP: Like most others, I had always assumed that “hemp” was just another name for marijuana and so I never paid much attention to it. Then one day I came across a stand at the Austin (Texas, USA) farmers market that was selling a variety of hemp products. The guy at the stand was very friendly and explained the dozens of benefits of using hemp. I was intrigued and I bought a bag of hemp seeds and some hemp lotion to try.
HT: And this is the beginning of the story of how you left your day job?
GP: Yes. After going home and trying the products, I was surprised—mainly because they were incredible. I found myself scratching my head and asking myself, “Why aren’t more people using this?”
This led me to doing more serious research into the topic, trying to find something wrong with hemp that would validate my initial bias against it. I scoured the depths of Google. I bought all the books I could find regarding hemp and came to learn how interesting (and controversial) its history was. I realized how misinformed and unaware the public is about hemp. What disturbed me the most was how we as a society are missing out on such a beneficial plant.
I started spreading the word about hemp to my friends and family, and then decided to launch Ministry of Hemp to share this positive insight to millions of others in the US and around the world.
HT: No regrets leaving the tech world?
GP: No. Right out of college, I stepped into the corporate world by joining a large tech company in Austin. A couple years into this work, I started gaining awareness about the scope and impact of what I was working on, and seeing how I was just a cog in the machine and the path forward was climbing the corporate ladder. That’s not what I really wanted to do. This was also around the time the farmers market experience sparked my passion for hemp.
HT: Where do you see Ministry of Hemp five years down the road?
GP: I believe in education, but also understand that real change needs to happen with legislation and regulation at the government level. I want to do what I can to help rally more people together to voice their support for hemp. I’d like to see Ministry of Hemp becoming an authoritative advocate in the federal and global legalization of hemp.
See Ministry of Hemp’s Guide to Hemp.