A Lakelander since 1981 | Founder and owner of Karate Beyond
Host of the Jae Choe Show podcast


J ae Choe moved to Lakeland from South Korea in 1981, and his first English words were “McDonald’s,” “french fries” and “ketchup.” No joke.

He honed his English, as well as his social skills, at Oscar J. Pope Elementary, Cleveland Court Elementary, Temple Christian (now Parkway Christian Academy), Southwest Middle School and Lakeland High School before earning a degree from University of Florida.

More than four decades after his family moved to our city, he is a bona fide Lakelander, and a successful businessman who is passionate about pouring back into the community.

Jae says one of the things that excites him most about the future of Lakeland is that many local entrepreneurs are “engaging in bold and daring projects for the people and the city.”

He can locate one of those said entrepreneurs each time he glances in the mirror or takes a photo for his lively social media feeds.

Choe loves that many local entrepreneurs are “engaging in bold and daring projects.”

In 2018 he opened Karate Beyond, a modern evolution of traditional martial arts that is less repetitious and more free-form than the environments Jae grew up in as a student of the art. His studio offers classes for kids through adults and includes summer camps and afterschool programs.

His infectious personality plays out well as the host of the Jae Choe Show, a podcast that recently hit the 150th episode milestone by featuring local leaders and innovators who have stories to tell and ideas to share that can strengthen and build our community.

Choe says in his mind a Lakelander is someone who is staunchly devoted to Publix (everything else is second place, as he puts it) and many Lakelanders leave after graduation, only to come back after they realize what they once took for granted.   

“[Lakeland] is like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” Choe says. “The porridge is not too hot, not too cold, it’s just right.”


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