DOB: December 11, 1976
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Author & Consultant
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Amidst a modern Asian culture that all too often prioritizes finances as the only measure of success, author, consultant, human rights activist and expert on North Korea, Mike Kim (born Kim Sunhong) has demolished any notion that the younger generation of Asians does not value compassion and ethics. After starting and running a highly successful financial planning business in Chicago, Mr. Kim decided to forego the luxuries that define modern-day success to venture into the forbidden territory of the North Korean border.
Of South Korean origin, Kim felt compelled to learn more about his own heritage while discovering more about his longtime passion- China. For several years, Kim placed his life in constant danger while living on the border of China and North Korea- working to save countless North Korean refugees through the 6000 mile underground railroad that stretches from North Korea to Bangkok. During several of these perilous journeys, Kim, along with his group members and refugees were held in detention and at gunpoint.
With unimaginable courage and selflessness, Kim not only survived but continued to help numerous families and children in orphanages. Several years later and back in the United States, Kim penned his memoirs in a book, Escaping North Korea, which went on to garner international attention and is currently being produced into a movie with Korean American actor Daniel Dae Kim (of Lost and Hawaii Five O fame).
Mike Kim serves as an iconic example of what all of the younger generation of Asians should strive to be- intelligent, hard-working, compassionate and fearless.
Mike Kim is an author, consultant, NGO founder, and North Korea specialist. He is the author of the Wall Street Journal featured book “Escaping North Korea”, a current events memoir about his experiences at the China-North Korea border helping North Koreans escape the regime. On New Year’s Day 2003, Mike gave up his financial planning business in Chicago, Illinois and left for China on a one-way ticket carrying little more than two duffle bags. While living near the North Korean border, he operated undercover as a student of North Korean taekwondo, training and competing under two famous North Korean masters from Pyongyang—eventually receiving a second-degree blackbelt.
During his time in China, he learned of the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans fleeing to China through a 6,000-mile modern-day underground railroad, which runs from Pyongyang to Bangkok, in search of food and freedom. He founded Crossing Borders, a nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees which has testified at a US congressional hearing and has been a long time contributor of the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Mike frequently appears in the media: He has appeared on CNN Anderson Cooper 360 and it was after his interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that there was interest from Hollywood in turning Escaping North Korea into a motion picture. A team of producers and writers are currently developing the script, with the book-to-film project represented by CAA.
Mike lectures to audiences worldwide about his experiences at the China-North Korea border and has now shared his stories of inspiration, courage, and hope on five continents. Mike resides in Los Angeles where he is a consultant and term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.