Hong was born in Koh Kong province, Cambodia in 1967. During the Communist Khmer Rouge reign from 1975 to 1979 under Pol Pot, Hong and millions of other endured the hardship of forced labor in the rice paddies which were known as “The Killing Fields.” He was one of the many people who were forced to migrate to the rural areas of Cambodia to be “re-educated” about the ideals of an agrarian utopia under Pol Pot’s reign of terror. In the midst of the mass evacuation, Hong was separated from his biological family. He later escaped to live in an orphanage center in a refugee camp in Thailand.
Hong arrived in the United States alone in 1982 and lived with a foster family in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Like many other immigrants, adapting a new life in a new country was difficult for him.
After experiencing the devastation of his country and witnessing the living conditions of his fellow countrymen especially the poor, when he returned to his native land in 1993, Hong made a promise that he would go back to help them. Honoring that promise in the following year, Hong returned to Cambodia to work for two international non-profit organizations, the Cambodian-American National Development Organization (CANDO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). In that role, he assisted the government in job creation, budget, education, and promote tourism. Hong also founded an international language center in the capital city of Phnom Penh teaching English and computer skills to over 800 local students.
Hong graduated from Holyoke Catholic High School in 1988 and from University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1992 with a BA in Political Science. Hong lives in Lynn with his wife, Thavra, a Mental Health Counselor at the Lynn Community Health Center and at Catholic Charities, and they live with their two children, Anna, who is a student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and William, who is a student at the Lynn Classical High School.
Among his other roles and activities, Hong is a: