How did Kristina Sunshine Jung become famous?

Fame can be attained in various ways, sometimes in unexpected or undesirable ways, as in the case of Kristina Sunshine Jung, who became famous by default. Kristina, now 41, born in the USA under the star sign Leo on 1st August, 1978, might have lived the life of any normal American child, had her father, George Jacob Jung, not become notoriously famous through his shady deeds. He was a smuggler for the Columbian Medellin Drug Cartel, headed by the infamous Pablo Escobar (Kristina’s Godfather), and served multiple terms in prison. Kristina’s mother, Mirtha Jung (born Calderon) is of Cuban descent, and her father of Irish descent on his mother, Ermine’s side, and Dutch descent on his father Fred‘s. Kristina came under the spotlight when the popular movie, “Blow” hit the circuit.

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It is the story of George Jung’s life, adapted from the book he wrote whilst incarcerated, “Grazing in the Grass Until the Snow Came’, which was re-written and published as “Blow” by Bruce Porter. The rocky relationship between Jung and his daughter was a poignant feature of the movie.

Kristina has managed to keep her life private, and very little is known about her. She prefers to keep it that way, and doesn’t appear in social media apart from a now private Instagram account with over 35,000 followers, and the accounts she has set up to promote the business she and Jung have set up since his release from prison in 2014. Kristina claims to be a writer and poet, but her only known literary work is the book, “Recovery from Blow”, which she co-authored with her mother, Mirtha. Apparently Kristina is currently writing a book about her mother.

About Kristina’s father, George Jacob Jung

Jung was born on 6th August 1942 (so also a Leo) in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He had a troublesome childhood. mostly because his father, although a hard-worker, didn’t make much money, which led to his parents fighting regularly. As a result, Jung vowed that he would never be poor. He shared a frank account of his life in an interview with Unbridled Publishing in 2016. After high school, Jung attended the University of Southern Mississippi where he studied marketing and philosophy.

His grades were average, he did well in football, but got distracted by girls. He then went to the University of Tennessee, and that didn’t work out either due to his drinking and partying.

Jung’s childhood friend, known as Tuna, had been kicked out of the University of Colorado, so in 1967 the two buddies took off for Long Beach, California, and it wasn’t long before they had their first joint, which irreversibly changed their lives. They decided that they weren’t cut out for normal jobs, and discovered that a lot of money could be made selling marijuana. Soon they realized they could increase their revenue by smuggling it to the East Coast.

Californian hairstylist, Barille was the distributor and Jung’s stewardess girlfriend transported the contraband in her suitcases until the demand became excessive, and they were soon flying cannabis from Mexico to Cape Cod – their operation literally took off. Jung even learnt how to fly, and initially flew the planes himself.

It was reported that Jung and his team were making $250,000 a month at the pinnacle of their drug-smuggling operation, but he was arrested in 1974 for smuggling 660lbs (300kgs). Whilst in prison he met Carlos Lehder, known as Diego Delgado, and Jung saw the potential for bigger dollar signs. Upon his release he began smuggling cocaine for the notorious Medellin Cartel, with Diego as his partner. Known in Columbia as Boston George, or El Americano, Jung was the main player responsible for the huge influx of cocaine into the states, which exploded into a massive trend during the ‘70s and ‘80s. During this time he met Mirtha, a drug addict, whom he married in 1977 when she was 24, and a year later Kristina was born. Jung has a step-daughter, Clara Pearson, who was born to Mirtha from a previous marriage.

George Jacob Jung

Clara has kept well under the radar, although Jung mentioned that he had a better relationship with her than Kristina. Mirtha continued to use drugs, even throughout her pregnancy, whereas Jung cleaned-up and was sober for a couple of years for his daughter’s sake. In 1980, on his 38th birthday, Mirtha threw a big party for Jung, inviting members of the Medellin Cartel which resulted in them all being busted – Kristina was three years old at the time. While imprisoned, Mirtha made a great effort to give up drugs and change her life, and since she was released in 1981, has never taken drugs since.

Diego eventually went behind Jung’s back and cut him out the business. Jung had kept his earnings in the Panama Bank, but when he was arrested, it was all expropriated, so Jung lost everything that he hadn’t already squandered, of the $100 million fortune he had amassed.

Lung and Mirtha divorced in 1984, and the relationship between Jung and Kristina became estranged too. After serving time, Jung made an effort to stay clean and improve their relationship, but it wasn’t long before he became desperate for money, and was back in the game. That was an unlucky move, as he was re-arrested in 1994, and sentenced to 60 years.

After testifying in court against Diego (Carlos Lehder) Jung’s sentence served in the high-security prison, Otisville, was reduced, and he was set free on 2nd June 2014. His last brush with the law was when he was arrested for a month for violating his parole for giving a speech in 2016.

Since then it appears that he married Ronda Clay Spinello, who was instrumental in campaigning for his release.

The Movie, “Blow”

Produced with a $53 million budget, “Blow”, released in 2001 racked up $83 million at the box office. Johnny Depp played the role of Jung, Penelope Cruz as Mirtha, Cliff Curtis as Pablo Escobar, and Ray Liotta as Fred Jung. Emma Roberts played the role of young Kristina, and Jaime King the older Kristina, with all actors acknowledged for their performances in this portrayal of a man achieving way beyond his financial dreams, then losing it all, but more so losing the most important relationship in his life, that being with his daughter, Kristina.

Jung helped write the script, and Ted Demme directed the film. Demme became a supportive friend to Mirtha and Kristina, and praised Mirtha for turning her life around. They were grief-stricken when he died in 2017.

Initially Kristina played a small part in the film, but it was requested by the government that her role be deleted, however, scenes she appeared in can still be seen in the DVD version of the movie.

Jung’s partner-in-crime, Barile, known as Derek Foreal, wasn’t happy about the film. Before passing away of liver cancer in 2011, he told his neighbour that he was not impressed that they had portrayed him as a homosexual, as he did date girls and had at least one child and a grandson. Also in the movie, it is shown that he went behind Jung’s back and cut him out of the business, but he stated that, “… everyone was just afraid to do business with him (Jung) because he was an idiot and they were afraid he would take them all down.”

Jung and his father were always close, even though Fred disapproved with Jung’s smuggling activities, but when Jung crossed the line into cocaine trafficking, Fred expressed that he had lost his son. The movie portrays several emotionally-charged moments, most memorable of which are when Jung writes a heartfelt letter apologizing to his father, just before Fred’s death, and the ending where Kristina comes to visit him in prison and they chat – he had only imagined it. It has not been verified whether she ever came to see him, but on all accounts, it appears not.

According to reporters, Jung is highly charming and charismatic. He reveled in the fame the movie brought him. Some of the facts in the movie were exaggerated, and Jung was also known to overplay some aspects of his life.

Blow movie cover

Have Kristina and her father reconciled?

Kristina had never really got to know her father, who was mostly absent from her life, and she was raised with the help of Jung’s parents. When Fred Jung died, his sister, Marie looked after Kristina until she turned 18. Kristina had successfully evaded publicity until the movie was released. All that is known about her is that she married Roman Karan, and they have a daughter, Athena Romina.

It is apparent that since Jung’s release, Kristina and her father have patched up their differences, as they launched a business together in 2016, BG (Boston George) Apparel & Merchandise Inc. with the tongue-in-cheek catchphrase, “I can’t sell dope anymore so now I sell dope clothing.”

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The business is based in Santa Rosa, California, with an online shop promoting their books and an array of T-shirts and clothing branded with Jung’s image, and slogans such as “Cocaine Express”, El Americano”, “The Real Boston George”, etc. The business has an Instagram account – “Smuggler’s Daughter” – and has over 3,000 followers as of 2019.

Did Kristina jump on the bandwagon, realizing that even bad publicity is good publicity? According to reliable sources, she is currently worth about $150,000. Her motto on Instagram and the website is, “Don’t let anyone steal your shine! They will try!“

Author

Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected]

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