SMT You graduated from a high school and university outside of Seoul. However, there clearly exists discrimination in the eyes of Korean society. How do you feel about one’s educational background?
KIM One’s educational background signifies nothing. In Korea, students need to excel at every subject to go to, what Korean society considers, better schools and universities. However, I was really bad at Mathematics and English, which elite universities consider the most important subjects. Instead, I was talented in engineering and only interested in its study. I was not good in some subjects, but when something caught my interest, I showed great talent in the subject. I became a specialist in engineering. Therefore, if a student develops talent in only one particular subject, someday she or he can show real worth though at first, the person may fall a step behind others. I think there is no need to overly cling to academics.
SMT What type of student were you at Daegu University?
KIM I did not like to study and did not get good grades. Instead, I did what I enjoyed and loved. Therefore, throughout university, I never felt bored because I always enjoyed my work. I made and joined many clubs well suited to my talent and interest. I loved to share my thinking with others who had different ideas. Sharing with others is one thing very precious in my life. Also, I was not afraid of a challenge. I felt challenging work to be enjoyable work. Also, I thought university is the best time to experience failure. Therefore, I tried many new things and eventually, designed a new search engine Kachi in my third year at Daegu University.
SMT You suddenly went abroad to study at the successful commencement of Kachi and Naravision. Now, you have chosen to become a professor. Why did you go abroad and become a professor instead of accepting a better job?
KIM Indeed, I went abroad to study, throwing away a possible career and business. However,I don’t regret my choice. I felt I had accomplished a lot, so I resolved to go abroad despite dissuation of my coworkers and friends. Also, I wanted to challenge something new. At first, I didn’t plan to become a professor, but my mentor professor motivated me. My professor took initiative and set a great example. He was really kind to all students and never showed any discrimination. Before I met him, I thought professors are people who are hard to approach, but after I met him, my thoughts changed. Because of him, I started to be fascinated by the academic profession, so I decided to become a professor.
SMT After creation of Kachi, your life seemed to have run smoothly. What was the most difficult time in your life?
KIM Because I am from a simple middle-class family, I had many difficulties. However, because I did not give up and enjoyed challenges, my difficulties were hidden from others. Instead, my difficulties revealed themselves as successes. My most difficult time was when my thesis was rejected. My paper was rejected three times. I was really discouraged at the time because I had worked diligently. Not only that, I felt really sorry to my coauthors. However, my sadness was short. I soon amended my thesis paper, and finally it passed. Therefore, I can say with confidence that I experienced lots of difficulties, but when I didn’t give up they led to my success.
SMT From last year, you started to lecture free-of-charge or buy lunch for students who visit you. Perhaps many students have enjoyed your words. Why did you start this pastime with students who visit you?
KIM For two reasons. First, I am a Christian. I believe in sharing what I have. Therefore, I started to share my knowledge with others. Second, when I visited Korea, I attended Kim Jedong’s Talk Concert as a participant. The concert facilitated communication with today’s youth to solve their problems. At first, I felt the concert ticket to be pricy at about 70,000 won. However, I learnt that proceedings from the concert would be used for a free concert for young peoples. I felt embarrassed because compared with Kim Jedong, I was doing nothing for society. Although I am a professor who teaches students, I did not have much communicate with youth nor did I try to hear their problems. Therefore, I started to lecture without pay or buy lunch for any Korean student who came to Hong Kong to meet me.
SMT Your life seems to be one challenge after another. Nowadays, university students fear challenges. What advice do you have for students worrying about challenges?
KIM Like I said previously about my university life, I was a student who did not fear failure nor got discouraged. Instead, I enjoyed each challenge and did not give up. University years are the best times to try something new. You need not be the best in everything. But, it is valuable to do what you really like and nurture your talent. If you do this, you will enjoy your days at university.