Richard E. Kim was born in Hamhung, a city in northern Korea, on March 13, 1932, while the Korean peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule. His father, Chun-Do, was a fighter for national independence, and Kim and his family had to live a few years in Manchuria, avoiding the Japanese persecution. These childhood experiences instilled in him strong nationalist sentiments, which he would later recollect in his third novel, Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood ( 1970). Kim grew up in the city of Hwangju and attended Second Pyongyang Middle School, located in the capital city of North Korea. After Korea was divided into the North and the South after its liberation in 1945, Kim and his family came to the South, this time fleeing the communist persecution of landowners.
After finishing high school in the southwestern city of Mokpo, he entered Seoul National University as an economics major. In 1950, while he was a freshman at the university, the Korean War broke out. His active involvement in this war would later provide material for his first novel, The Martyred ( 1964). An anticommunist, he volunteered to serve in the South Korean army. He became a reserve officer in the marine corps before he was discharged due to pneumonia. He later volunteered to become a liaison officer between the U.S. and South Korean forces. After serving as an aide-de-camp to General Arthur Trudeau, then commander of the U.S. Seventh Army, he was honorably discharged from the army in December 1954.
Thanks to General Trudeau and Charlotte D. Meinecke of New York University, Kim came to Middlebury College in Vermont in 1955 to finish his college studies, majoring in political science and philosophy of history. Without
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Publication information: Book title: Asian American Novelists:A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Contributors: Emmanuel S. Nelson - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 132.