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Won Tai Sohn papers

Identifier: 3029

Scope and Contents

This small collection is comprised primarily of printed materials and manuscript drafts collected and created by Korean-American physician Won Tai Sohn (1914-2014), a close friend of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung (1912-1994). The majority of the collection (primarily in Korean) dates from the 1970s to early 2000s and is comprised of printed materials in the form of articles, clippings, pamphlets, books, reports, programs, and numerous early drafts of Sohn's memoirs, under its original working titles "The Divided Korean Peninsula: the Memoirs of Dr. Won Tai Sohn" and "My Relationship with Kim Il Sung (1918-1994): the Memoirs of Dr. Won Tai Sohn." The collection also contains personal photographs, albums, negatives, and certificates relating to Sohn's medical career, trip to North Korea in 1992 to visit Kim Il Sung, and familial history. The remainder of the collection comprises personal papers consisting of resumes, notebooks, correspondence, travel documents, Sohn's obituary and sympathy cards, and ephemera in the form of a name plate and a rubbing on parchment.


  • 1917 - 2004


Language of Materials

Collection is predominantly in Korean.

Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of the Korean Heritage Library. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Korean Heritage Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

Finding aid description and metadata are licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Biographical Note

Won Tai Sohn was born on August 11, 1914, in Seoul, Korea. He moved to the United States and graduated from Yonsei Severance Medical School in 1945. He attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 1949 and finished residency in pathology at Cook County Hospital in 1952. In 1965, Sohn completed a Clinical Cyptopathology course at Johns Hopkins. In 1972 he moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where he served sixteen years as a staff pathologist at Bishop Clarkson Hospital. He retired from both teaching and practicing medicine in 1986. In 1992, Sohn visited North Korea, rekindling his old friendship with the President at the time Kim Il Sung. In 2003, his book entitled "Kim Il Sung and Korea's Struggle: an Unconventional Firsthand History" was published by McFarland and Company.

Sohn passed away on September 28, 2014, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was survived by his wife Yoo Shin Lee, sons Dr. Carol Sohn and Rocky Sohn, and daughter Yonghi Sohn.


3.4 Linear Feet (4 boxes)


This small collection is comprised primarily of printed materials and manuscript drafts collected and created by Korean-American physician Won Tai Sohn (1914-2014), a close friend of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung (1912-1994). Items chiefly date from the 1970s to early 2000s and include articles, clippings, and drafts of Sohn's memoirs regarding his relationship with Sung. It also contains photographs, certificates, personal papers, and ephemera.


The Won Tai Sohn papers are organized into the following series: 1. Printed Materials; 2. Clippings and article reprints; 3. The Divided Peninsula; 4. Photographs; 5. Certificates; 6. Personal papers and ephemera. Arrangement within series is chronological.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of Won Tai Sohn.

Processing Information

A basic resource record was completed for this collection in 2014 with materials not fully processed. Full processing of the collection was done in May 2018 along with the creation of an updated full and complete finding aid by Sungjin Park and Sarah Cassone. While performing this work, the archivist noted some items in the collection that were not part of the original acquisition. These included a softcover copy of Sohn's book, "Kim Il Sung and Korea's Struggle: an Unconventional Firsthand History" and a published booklet by Kim Il Sung. Both of these items already had USC library call numbers and location information. The items were removed and placed back in their original locations. Additionally, three DVD-Rs were found within the collection relating to Sohn, Sung, and Sohn's father Sohn Jong Do, along with a letter to USC indicating they were given to the library by someone unrelated to Sohn, independent of this collection's acquisition. These items were also removed so they may be cataloged within USC Libraries East Asian audiovisual collection. Additional work was done by USC students in 2019 as part of the "Piloting a Shared Practice for Accessible Archival Descriptions" Dean's Challenge Grant and the finding aid was revised and updated by Diann Benti in 2021.

Finding aid for the Won Tai Sohn papers
Sungjin Park, Sarah Cassone, and Diann Benti
2021 October
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • May 2018: Finding aid edited, revised, and updated by Sarah Cassone
  • October 2021: Additional arrangement and finding aid revision by Diann Benti

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries East Asian Library Repository

Doheny Memorial Library
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-1825 United States