1951 Graduate Receives Honorary Doctorate

by Wallace Anderson

My wife, Alice, and I had the special privilege of attending the commencement exercises at North Park University in May, and being present as Dr. Young Song (John) Kim received the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa from his Alma Mater.

I was serving in the US Army in Korea in 1946 when I met Young Song Kim. We arrived in Inchon the last day of September, 1946, and eventually I was assigned to the 96th Military Government in Chonju, about 150 miles south of Seoul, Young Song Kim’s home town. He lived in abject poverty—his dad died when he was ten, leaving his mother with eight children.

My first contact with John was as interpreter in our office. At 18, he had mastered the English language quite well. Working together during my six-month stay, we became well acquainted and I met his entire family. He repeatedly asked me to help him come to the States, as he wanted to become a doctor.

When I returned home, I felt led to pursue the possibility, and I corresponded with Dr. Algoth Ohlson, President of North Park College, about accepting him as a student.

Unknown to me at the time, Young Song Kim was seeking advice from several Americans in the 96th Military Government. One of these men, an educational officer for the Provincial Govern-ment, had a catalog listing all the universities and colleges in the United States. These men concluded that he should go to a small, church-related junior college, and what do you know, they suggested North Park College in Chicago. Only God could have coordinated these efforts!

However, he had to contend with the Korean officials, who granted visas for study abroad only to those with college or university degrees. He had only a 10th grade education, but he was not to be deterred. Young Song was familiar with the passage he had to translate and scored highest of all the applicants.

Young Song Kim was accepted with a full scholarship to North Park College. Our family and a few others provided funds for his transportation to Chicago. We awaited his coming, only to get a message from the telephone company to expect a phone call the following day. We sensed there was a problem.

God works in mysterious ways His little wonders to perform. To call us, Young Song had to get to Seoul (150 miles). He had no money, but the back of a truck provided his transportation, and a friend in Chonju, Mr. Leak, gave him a roll of bills to cover the call! And, yes, there was a problem—the Korean Government required a $500 deposit to guarantee return boat passage at the end of a six-year student visa. After stating the problem, the phone went dead. Out of money again, God worked it out through the operator who was so impressed with John’s command of the English language, which he had picked up by listening to the G.I.s, that she said not to worry, the second call would be put through at no cost to him. Alice’s mother supplied the additional $500! We met him in San Francisco, took him to Kingsburg to outfit him for the Chicago weather, and sent him on his way.

My brother, Glenn Anderson, attending North Park Seminary at the time, took him under his wing on arrival. When he met with the administration at the school, it was suggested that he finish high school, but he begged them to let him try college. They consented and, even though he started school in October, he made the Dean’s list by the end of the first semester. We continued to aid him financially until he was able to support himself.

After graduating from North Park College and Northwestern University, Kim received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota. He is today a cardiovascular surgeon, having practiced many years in the Detroit area and more recently in Southern California. He is a Diplomate with the American Board of Surgery, the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians. He has had a number of clinical teaching appointments at several universities, as well. Dr. Kim is President and Medical Director of Affiliated Medical Association and Medical Director of General Healthcare Corporation in California. These organizations provide affordable, comprehensive health care for the immigrant Asian community.

During his schooling in the Chicago area, he attended the Korean Presbyterian Church where he met Shin Kim, who had also come from Korea. They were married in Isaacson Chapel on the North Park campus by Dr. Clarence Nelson, then President of the school.

Dr. Kim is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and serves on committees concerned with human rights as well as democracy in his homeland. He serves on a committee to facilitate reconcilia-tion and peaceful reunification of North and South Korea. He recently attended the inauguration of Kim Dae Jung, newly elected president of Korea. Dr. Kim, with others, secured the release of Kim Dae Jung from prison several years ago. Mrs. Shin Kim, who was also very active in the Presbyterian Church, serving on their national boards and in human rights issues, died in 1996.

Dr. Kim presently serves as a consultant to the Christian Hospital Association of Korea, assisting their 22 hospitals to deliver compassionate, quality health care. He has enabled the North Park community to develop a greater under-standing of ethical issues in health care through his support of the lecture series, “Discovering Ethics in 21st Century Health Care,” initiated this year at North Park University.

Alice and I traveled to Korea in 1992 as guest of Dr. and Mrs. Kim. This trip was a high point in our lives, as we met so many dear Christian people and saw the change in the country after so many years. To think that a G.I. could be an instrument that God would use to help one who, in turn, has helped so many people, is hard to comprehend! I thank God for this rare privilege.