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Remembering the life of IU student Julian Baek



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Graduate student Julian Baek died Nov. 1. Organizations and friends of Baek contributed to a GoFundMe page that covered his funeral costs. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

He grins in most of the photos. Of the 119 in the slideshow played at his vigil, he is smiling wide: rock climbing, at restaurants with family, trying on silly hats in a store with friends, riding on the back of an elephant and throwing a peace sign in the air. 

This was the life of Julian Baek.

Baek, 29, died Nov. 1. Baek graduated from the Kelley School of Business in December 2015 with a bachelor of science degree in marketing and technology management and was about to graduate in the winter with a master of science in informations systems degree with concentrations in enterprise systems and business intelligence. 

A vigil was held in Baek’s honor Nov. 4 near the Kelley graduate building, with friends, classmates and faculty gathered to remember him. Electric candles surrounded a framed photo of Baek, with information security books stacked behind the frame in honor of his studies. The slideshow of the 119 photos played in the background on a loop. 

Baek, born in South Korea, traveled to 22 countries and learned five languages during his life, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was also an actor, winning Best Male Performance in 2014 at the Yxine Film Festival, a Vietnamese online international short film festival. He also worked as an interpreter for the Republic of Korea’s Air Force and interned at Cummins, Inc., a Fortune 500 company. 

Ryan Andrew, a former classmate of Baek’s, started a GoFundMe to raise funds for the funeral services. In the description for the campaign, Andrew wrote about Baek’s merits as a student and as a person, writing of his constant smiles and jokes in addition to his academic performance in Kelley.

“His academic career was not just good grades, as Julian was a part of many clubs and associations, always trying to give back to the people that helped him succeed,” the campaign’s description reads.

More than $22,000 has been raised to pay for the funeral in four days, with almost 400 campaign supporters donating money. The campaign’s original goal of $7,000 was exceeded in one day, prompting Andrew to raise the goal to not limit donations to cover any other potential expenses. Messages in both Korean and English have turned the GoFundMe into an online memorial book, with friends, family, classmates, faculty and more sharing memories and condolences. 

Hyojeong Jeon, who worked with him on a movie in 2012: “I remember how stunning he was on the stage of 'Tick, tick… Boom!' in Korea. People loved him and looked forward to his next film. I’ve always expected to make a musical film with him.”

Alex MacDonald, his roommate for two weeks during a trip to India: “I can genuinely say Julian was one of the most friendly, caring and funny people I met while at IU.” Accompanying MacDonald’s message is a photo of the two together, with Baek making a silly face into the camera. 

“While I am proud of the unique skill set that I have acquired over the years, the things that I truly value are my family and friends,” Baek wrote in his LinkedIn profile summary. “My ultimate goal is to achieve my dream of inspiring others and making an impact.”

Candles were passed out at the vigil as the slideshow continued to play, showing pictures of Baek with friends, in front of a giant Christmas tree in New York City, snowboarding, on stage with cast members. In most of the photos, Baek is grinning.

Someone at the vigil asked as the photos flipped through: “Have you ever seen a wider smile?”

Sarah Panfil contributed to this report. 

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