Y. S. Kim's Korean Background
- King and President,
a descendant of a Silla king and a great grand son
of Grover Cleveland, the twice president of the United
States. Korea was called Silla 1200 years ago.
The gold crown Korean kings used to wear
during the Silla Dynasty.
How about President Cleveland? Would you like to see his crown?
I came to the United States in 1954 after high school graduation. However, my American connection can be traced to my grandfather. He had an American friend named Horace Underwood, who came to Korea as the first Presbyterian missionary in 1885. His brother was one of the pioneers in American typewriter industry. You may be interested in a Wikipedia article about Underwood and his typewriters. Click here.
- Here is my photo with Horace Underwood's
grandson. From time to time, my family had contacts
with the Underwoods. In this photo taken in Urbana (illinois) on
October 25 (2003), I am with my wife, Richard Underwood and Mrs.
Underwood. Richard is Horace's youngest grandson.
- More about my American connection
before coming to the United States.
With a Korean student at one of the bay-side restaurants in Sydney (Australia).
In the background (across the bay, not seen in the evening) is the Sydney
opera house (one of the most famous buildings in the world). One hour earlier,
we were in the opera house enjoying Verdi's La Traviata (July 1998).
- Paris. I met them near the Luxemburg metro station in Paris (July 2002).
- Picasso Museum in Antibes, France (July 2002). Many Korean students spend their vacation weeks in Europe, and they like to visit historical sites. Koreans love Picasso.
- Korean Students in New York (February 2004).
- Korean Students in Moscow (2010). They are studying cinema acting. Russians are excellet film makers.
- Korean Students studying in Germany. They came to Strasbourg, France during the spring vacation (2012).
I become very happy whenever I meet Korean students while travelling.
- Angelus by Francois Millet:
the most popular painting in Korea. Korea's cultural root is in agriculture.
There are many Christians in Korea. For instance, Kim Il-Sung, the Stalinist
dictator who ruled North Korea from 1945 to 1994, was born and raised in a
Christian family. Photo courtesy of the Orsay Museum in Paris. Koreans are
also art-loving people.
- Sorae was the
name of the first church in Korea, established in 1884. I received my
infant baptism and learned the basic Bible lessons from this church.
The village of Sorae is now under the control of the North Korean regime.
I left this village and came to the South in May of 1946.
I like to visit my home village!
Wedding. After a wedding ceremony in the church (1944). The bride was my second cousin (the youngest daughter of my grandfather's younger brother). The church had two separate doors for men (left) and for women (right). They had to sit in two separate sections.
- License Plate.
My car carries the license plates proudly saying SORAE.
- Sorae Beach. The village of Sorae
was on a beautiful
beach. Before 1941, this beach used to be a very popular
spot among Americans. In one of the photos, Americans are
playing valley ball. There are American houses on the
on the beach hill.
- My Grandfather was one of Horace Underwood's most trusted Korean friends. This is my photo with his grandson (2003). Horace Underwood was the first Presbyterian missionary from the United States. He came to Korea in 1885.
Jesus and Nicodemus, painting by
Crijn Hendricksz (1616-45).
Image from the public domain.
- Sorae was the name of the first church in Korea, established in 1884. I received my infant baptism and learned the basic Bible lessons from this church. The village of Sorae is now under the control of the North Korean regime. I left this village and came to the South in May of 1946. I like to visit my home village!
- Click here for the early history
of Korean Christianity.
- Nicodemus. My life in the United States was not always easy. Quite often, I did not like what my professional colleagues were doing. The question was whether I should be like them or be my own. I asked Paul A. M. Dirac what I should do. I was like Nicodemus visiting Jesus (story from the Gospel of John). Click here for my story.
- Thomas Aquinas:
in the dormitory room where St. Thomas Aquinas used to study and pray
(Naples, Italy, 1998). Like many Koreans, I have a very strong
background in Christianity. Unlike those Koreans, I am keenly
interested in its historical background. I would like to thank
Prof. Salvatore Solimeno taking me to this place and taking this photo.
Portrait of Thomas Aquinas.
- Herod Complex. My strong Bible background has been a very valuable asset in managing my affairs in the Western academic world, very competitive and merciless. I invented this psychological term to deal with this problem. This concept is very helpful to young scholars whose career advancements are jeopardized by their jealous senior colleagues.
- Garden of Eden. When I was a child, I was told by my grandmother that I have one less rib on the left chest. She told me that God created a woman by pulling out one rib from Adam's chest. Recently, I examined my chest X-ray. Alas, I have the same number of ribs on both sides. God therefore must have pulled out two ribs from both sides. For this reason, I look very happy in my photos with two women.
- How did Moses talk to God?
I heard about Moses from my grandmother when I was 8 years old. How exciting! He divided the water. I still cannot explain scientifically how he did it. However, I can explain how he talked to God. He wrote Five Books about God.
- When I heard about Albert Einstein in 1947 for the first time, he was a God-like figure to me.
- In 1958, I became closer to Einstein, when I got a letter from Princeton telling me I got admitted to their graduate school. However, I was not able to meet him because he left this world in 1955. Yet, I was able to talk to Einstein. How?
- I wrote published many papers and books about Einstein. In addition, I constructed a webpage dedicated to him. I learned the lesson from Moses. Click here for my Einstein page.
- Korean Art and Architecture.
Look at this 15th-century vase with an abstract design. The design artist
was addressing the harmony of this universe.
- Art Lovers.
Koreans are art-loving people.
Music Lovers. Koreans are music-loving people.
- Longing for Democracy.
Koreans had their first general election in May of 1948. I was in my
6th grade (graduating year) in my elementary school, and we produced a
drama about this historic election.
- Korea's Recent History: Divided Country
I am quite fond of collecting photographs of historical significance.
Look at the map. Korea is surrounded by powerful countries, and its historical
development depends heavily on the geopolitics of big powers. On the other
hand, Koreans are strongly nationalistic and assert their independence from
foreign powers. As a consequence, Koreans can write a very interesting history
about their own country.
- Russian Leica Cameras, better than those produced in Germany.
- Proschanie Slavianki.
How was this Russian military march introduced to Korea (North and South both)?
photo from the North Korean propaganda literature.
- Korean War (1950-53). The Korean War was the most tragic event in Korea's recent history. About two million Koreans died, and more than one half of the entire population lost their houses. It was one of the major wars for Americans and more than 30,000 American soldiers lost their lives in Korea. On the other hand, the War was a turning point in Korean history. From the war ashes, Koreans were able to transform their country into one of the fifteen economic powers in the world. I was in Korea during the war period, and have many stories to tell about this war.
- Poland as a Mirror.
The geo-history of Poland is very similar to that of Korea. It had been
divided into three colonies by Russian, Austria, and Prussia for 125
years until the end of World War I. Poland is still surrounded by big
powers. Like Korea, it has a strong agrarian background. Like Koreans,
Polish people believe and rely on God. Thus, Poland could serve as a
mirror of Korea.
During my first visit to Moscow in 1990, I spotted these soldiers.
They were wearing the same uniforms as those of the Soviet troops
who came to Korea in 1945.
- First Visit to Moscow. After August 15 of 1945, Soviet troops moved into the northern part of Korea (north of 38th parallel), and Americans came to the southern part which included the capital city of Seoul. At that time, I was at a village called "Sorae" about 40 kilometers north of the 38th parallel. My village of was the control of Joseph Stalin's Red Army, and I use to see Soviet solders until my family moved to the south in May of 1946. I was afraid of them and stayed away from them as much as possible. However, after coming to the United States, I became increasingly interested in Russia after learning about Russian contributions in music, literature, and science. Because of the Cold War, however, I was not able to visit Russia until 1990.
- Koreans from Central Asia.
For geographical reasons, many Koreans used to live in the
the Vladivostok area of Russia. In 1836, about 400,000 Koreans were
rounded up by Stalin's police and were transported to
Kazakhstan and Uzbeckistan in Central Asia. Only one half of
them survived during the transportation. Those survivors were
thrown out to untouched wild fields. Those Koreans started digging
the ground and developed agriculture, and they now produce high-quality
farm products for Russia and the former Soviet region.
Jewish people talk often about how they survived atrocities committed
against them throughout the history. Koreans also have their own
stories to tell.
- Art of War. Sigmund Freud formulated
his psychology based on human desire for opposite sex. Twenty four
centuries ago, a Chinese scholar named Sun Tsu wrote a book based on
human desire to fight and win. This book in the Western world is known as
the "Art of War." My maternal grandfather was quite fond of Chinese literature,
particularly the writings of Sun Tsu. I learned from him a very important
skill: how to protect myself from intellectual violence. Many people, perhaps
you too, attempted in the past to destroy my professional life. Thanks to
Sun Tsu and my grandfather, I was able to survive. Be careful if you wish
to play a game with me. Image from the cover of the book as shown
(Westview Press, Oxford, 1996).
- Taoism and Kantianism.
Sun Tsu's Art of War can be considered as a practical application of
the traditional philosophy of Taoism. Some years later, Immanuel Kant
from the East Prussian city of Koenigsberg formulated his philosophy
called Kantianism. There seems to be common grounds shared by both
Taoism and Kantianism. Thanks to my Eastern background, it is very
easy for me to grasp what Kant has to say about this world, while Kant
is a stranger to Americans. The point is that Einstein's brain was
configured by Kantianism in his early years.
According to Sun Tsu and Floyd, I should look happy with a lady,
soldiers, and a tank.
- Sigmund Freud Park, in Vienna. Freud was also a great man.
- Sun Tsu and Freud. I look very healthy when I pose with soldiers, ladies, and tanks.
- Cafe Les Deux Magots in Paris. Jean-Paul Sartre used to preach young Frenchmen/women at this Cafe. Koreans are deep thinkers and like philosophers. Here, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had her last birthday party in 1993. Cafe Flore, next to the Cafe Deux Magots. This place served the same purpose as the Magots. I like Sartre because he preaches the same thing as Confucius does: everything starts from yourself!
- What does Sarte mean to me and other Koreans?
- Taoism and Kantianism. Sun Tsu's Art of War can be considered as a practical application of the traditional philosophy of Taoism. Some years later, Immanuel Kant from the East Prussian city of Koenigsberg formulated his philosophy called Kantianism. There seems to be common grounds shared by both Taoism and Kantianism. Thanks to my Eastern background, it is very easy for me to grasp what Kant has to say about this world, while Kant is a stranger to Americans. The point is that Einstein's brain was configured by Kantianism in his early years.
- Short Wave Radios. In 1951, I was
fortunate enough to own a shortwave radio. Since then, I was interested
in listening to those far away from me. While listening, I became
interested in talking to them. It was an impossible dream at that time.
To build a strong transmitter, produce programs, and get government
permissions to broadcast. These were far beyond what I can afford.
Thanks to internet technology these days, I am able to do this in the
form of Show and Tell.
In addition to Sun Tsu's Art of War, I maintain this technological
- Taylor. Y. S. Kim,
in his high school uniform, shaking hands with Gen. Maxwell Taylor, the
commander of U.S. Forces in Korea (1954). There were 330,000 combat-ready U.S.
troops under his command. General Taylor served as the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs during the Kennedy administration, and designed Kennedy's Cuban
invasion plan in 1962, which included a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet
Union. As a result, Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union lost his job.
United Press photo.
- Another Four-Star General. In 1955, General Taylor went to Washington to become the chief of staff of the U.S. Army. General Lyman Lemnitzer then came to Korea as the commanding general of the U.S.Army in Korea. In this photo, Gen. Lemnitzer (far right) is signing a document. The U.S. Army is agreeing to provide money to the Severance Medical Complex in Seoul, which was initially built by American missionaries. The Korean counterpart (far left) is my uncle. He studied in the United States and received his PhD degree from Northwestern University (near Chicago) in 1933. Since then, he dedicated his life to Severance Medical College. Their signatures provided the seed money for a new medical complex at a location within the campus of Yonsei University in Seoul. The old medical center was near Seoul's main railroad station. Here is a photo of the new Sverance Hospital of the Yonsei Medical Center.
- Higher than four-star generals. Marilyn Monroe went to Korea in 1954. This photo was taken by David Geary (navy medic) while he was a few feet away from Monroe. Photo from the Washington Post (January 1998).
- First Four Years in U.S.A. I came to the United States in September of 1954, seven months after shaking hands with General Maxwell Taylor, to become a freshman at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.
- Confucian Educator. This person
was the principal of my elementary school. He was a strict Confucianist.
He maintained an interest in how and what I was doing even after my
graduation in 1948. He used to send me New Year's cards while I was
in the United States. His name was Yoon Hyung-Mo. He knew that I was
interested in many different things, and once warned very sternly that
I should concentrate on my study. For this warning, I am eternally
grateful to him.
- Spartan Educator and Superman. Mr. Kim Won-Kyu was my high-school principal. When I entered his high school in 1948, my class consisted of 360 boys and no girls, but only 250 of them were able to graduate in 1954. This was due to the Korean War (1950-53) which completely destroyed the campus. Yet, my class produced three Harvard PhDs, two Princeton PhDs, one MIT PhD, and many others. You would agree that Mr. Kim Won-Kyu was a superman. Here is my article about him.
- Eton and Harrow.
Mr. Kim Won-Kyu was a
very old-fashioned educator, and he was talking about Eton College of
England very often. Out of my respect for him, I visited the Eton campus
lcated near the Windsor Palace in England (March 2004).
Mr. Kim Won-Kyu was not the only Korean capable of producing miracles. He was one of those miracle-producing Koreans. Koreans produce miracles by teaching and learning.
Samsung at the
da Vince Airport in Rome.
- Seoul (1950). Let us look at a photo of Seoul taken by an Associated Press reporter on June 28 (1950) just before the Soviet-made tanks (driven by North Korean soldiers) moved in. Since then, the city went through a total destruction during the September battle of 1950 and the total desertion which lasted until July of 1953.
- Seoul (1975). Koreans
were able to build a shiny new city on the ashes of old Seoul.
Koreans were able to industrialize their country within a period of
25 years. How was this possible? Koreans invest heavily in
education of their children.
- Hyundai Car in Canada (1986). Before 1986, Hyundai was not able sell its cars in the United States. The car maker had to prove itself in the Canadian car market. I was very happy to see this Korean-made car in Montreal.
- Samsung Ad at Rome's da Vinci Airport (2009). Italians love big screen TVs, and Korea's Samsung delivers them.
- Seoul (2009). Seoul's center of wealth
moved to the south of the Han River.
- My Childhood. I have my own personality. Much of it can be traced back to my childhood.
- My First Four Years in the United
States. I came to the United States in 1954.
copyright@2015 by Y. S. Kim.