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Yung-chol Kim papers

Identifier: 3325

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Scope and Contents

The Yung-chol Kim papers contains four boxes of printed materials dating from 1960s to 2010s. All items are placed in folders. Topics include: human rights and democratization movements of South Korea including supporting prisoners of conscience, anti-fingerprinting of Koreans in Japan, the 1980 Kwangju Democratic Uprising, the Thursday Prayer Groups in New York and Los Angeles, movement for peaceful reunification of the North Korea and South Korea, and church work for Korean Amreicans.


  • Creation: 1963 - 2020


Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFFSITE. 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 Department of East Asian Library at Permission for publication is given on behalf of the East Asian 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.

Biographical / Historical

The Rev. Yung-chol Kim [김영철, Young-chol Kim, Kim Yung-chol, Kim Yong-chol](1929-2018) was born on June 24, 1929, in Sunchon-si, Pyongan namdo (평안남도 순천시 성암리), North Korea to father Yong-sae Kim and mother Hwak-sil Kwon. He moved to the States in 1961 to study and obtained his Doctor of Ministry at the Drew Theological Seminary in 1975. He served as a pastor in several United Methodist Churches (UMC) in New Jersey and later in Torrance and Gardena, CA. Throughout his life in the U.S., he took a leadership role in supporting South Korean political prisoners, democratization, human rights, and unification movements.

On August 15, 1945, when Korea was liberated from the Japanese colonial rule, North Korea was put under the control of the communist Soviet Union. In 1946, he escaped by crossing the 38 parallel alone to continue his education in the democratic South Korea. In Seoul, he joined the Northwest Youth Group (서북청년단) where he met many of his hometown compatriots.

Then in early 1947, he went back to North Korea as part of the ten-member mission of the Northwest Youth Group to rescue Cho Man-sik (조만식), the leader of Choson Democratic Party (조선민주당), who was imprisoned by Kim Il-song (김일성)’s communist regime. After a brief stay in North under the tight surveillance by North Korean and Russian agents, he attempted to escape once again but was captured on Sept. 11, 1947. Over the next 25 months, he endured extreme torture as a political prisoner in the Pyongyang Prison, the Hamhung Prison, the Pon’gung Prison, and the infamous Aoji Prison, known as the “human slaughterhouse” on the Russian border. As the youngest prisoner, he was kept alive by the sacrificial help of his cell mates (religious or political prisoners) who tenderly cared for him. On October 20, 1949, he was released from the Aoji Prison and hid until the Korean War broke out in June 1950. He escaped the North once again by joining the 24th Division of the American Army as part of the UN Forces. Unfortunately, all his family were left in North Korea.

After the truce in July 1953, he was “adopted” by the Rev. Uwon Ho-bin Yi (우원 이호빈 Yi Ho-bin), the founder of the Central Theological Seminary (서울 중앙신학교) in Seoul, Korea. Under Yi’s tutelage, he graduated in 1958 from the Central Theological Seminary, and served at the Seoul United Church (서울연합교회) in the same year.

Then he came to the United States in 1961 to study at Drew University where he obtained a Master of Theology in 1967, and a Doctor of Ministry in 1975. From 1964-1985, he served at the United Methodist Churches (UMC) in New Jersey. In 1964, he was appointed Assistant Pastor at Summit UMC; in 1967, Senior Pastor at Westside UMC; in 1972, Emanuel UMC; and in 1978, Wesley UMC. Then he moved to California in 1985 with family and served Hope UMC in Torrance, CA. He officially retired in 1995, but continued to serve the Gardena UMC, Gardena, CA in 1996.

Throughout his life in the U.S., he actively supported South Korean political prisoners, democratization, human rights, and unification movements as a founder/leader of various organizations, including Thursday Prayer Group for Korea (목요기도회) in New York (1974-1984) and Los Angeles (1984-?), Christian Scholars Association (기독학자회), and Han’guk Chayu Pangsong (한국자유방송, F.K.N, 1987-?). In 1980, he served as Representative of the Central Theological Seminary Alumni in America (중앙신학교 미주동문). In 1982-1992, he served as American Representative to the Tokyo Conference for Unification of South and North Korea (남북통일을위한동경회의). In 1983, he was the United Methodist Church of America Representative for Korean democratization. In 1984, he supervised the Farewell Conferences for Kim Dae-Jung’s Homecoming in New York and Los Angeles. In 1988, he held a special prayer meeting for the perished souls in the Kwangju Uprising (광주사태영령을위한특별기도회). In 1990, he was the American Representative at Uwon Commemoration Corporation (우원기념사업회). In 1993, he was the President of the Los Angeles Prayer Group for Korean Reunification in Jubilee (Fifty-Year) Year of Korean Liberation (LA 희년기도회).

He wrote the following autobiographical books: 세기를 넘어서 : 나를 나 되게 한 나의 아버지 友園 이호빈 목사 (서울 : 시무언 이용도 목사 기념사업회, 2005); 나는 너를 믿는다 : 아오지에서 살아나온 산 증인 : 김영철 목사의 옥중생활 (서울 : 풍류, 2007); and its translation, I trust you : only person survivor from Aoji in North Korea (Woowon Publishing, 2011); 미국에서 펼친 한국 민주화 운동 (서울 : 성광문화사, 2008); and 나는 미국교회 목사가 되었다 (서울 : 예사랑, 2009).

In 1967, he married Kim Sook Kyung (김숙경) in Los Angeles. They have two daughters, Jane Moon and Susan Kim, and a son, Jason Kim, and seven grandchildren. Grandchildren include Josiah Moon, Julia Moon, David Moon, Priscilla Moon, Elizabeth Kim, Noah Kim and Jonah Kim. He died on Sept. 12, 2018 in his home in Solana Beach, California.


4.57 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials




Yung-chol Kim (1929-2018) was a Korean American methodist pastor. A dedicated activist, he devoted his life to support human rights, democratization, and peaceful reunification of Korea, and helping Koreans in the United States. The collection consists of four boxes of textual materials.


The collection is arranged in three series:

1 Democratization & human rights movements 2 Unification of Korea movement 3 Other topics

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Yung-chol Kim, 2017.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jiin Park in September 2020. Processing included arrangement, physical re-housing of materials, and the creation of this finding aid.

Finding aid for the Yung-chol Kim papers
Jiin Park
2020 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Most of the description for this collection is written in English. However, much of the item-level description also includes Korean and Chinese characters (Hancha).

Revision Statements

  • 2021 December: Finding aid updated by Bo Doub to include an accrual (no. 2021-002) of pamphlets, publications, biographical notes, and other material added to the collection in 2021.

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries East Asian Library Repository

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