‘Brother Kim’ inspires youth

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‘Brother Kim’ inspires youth

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Kim Tae-wung is the CEO of a publishing company. By Lee Han-gil

For 52-year-old Kim Tae-wung, CEO of a publishing company, getting a university degree has been a lifelong dream since he was expelled from high school at 17.

Now 46, Kim’s yearning for education led him to Sungkyunkwan University in 2005. He graduated yesterday.

“What I want to say to younger people is to keep your dreams and always do your best in any situation you find yourself in,” Kim said. “These days, I think young people are afraid of failure. I’m such an old guy, but I still move toward my goal. I feel sorry for people that can’t muster up any courage to chase their dreams.”

Kim lost his father when he was 10. To make money to help his family, he worked part-time at different jobs.

He was kicked out of school for “forming a delinquent society” with his peers.

Although Kim became CEO of Dongyang Books, he confessed that it took him a long time to publicly admit he didn’t have a university diploma.

“I lied, even to my wife, that I had a university education,” Kim said. “When I was a chief consultant for the Korean Publishers Association, the Blue House invited me for a luncheon. I refused to go, because I also lied to the association that I graduated.”

Kim said he reached a point in his life where he had to come clean.

“I couldn’t hide it anymore, and went to the high school that expelled me,” he said. “And I attended classes as a student in my 40s.”

At Seoul Sahmyook High School in Guri, Gyeonggi, he attended classes with other teenagers in 2004. He was forced to comply with all school regulations, including wearing a uniform. Kim even had to cut his hair short.

In 2005, Kim took the College Scholastic Ability Test and was admitted to the School of Welfare at Sungkyunkwan University.

“At first, I felt a generation gap with students in their 20s, because I regarded young people as reckless and rude,” Kim said.

“After noticing students were excluding me from their social groups, I decided to throw my prejudice out the window. I followed their rules and culture. Only then did they warm to me, eventually calling me their ‘brother,’” Kim recalled.

Kim’s autography, “Brother Kim’s Message For Youths,” was published last week.

After graduation, Kim plans to volunteer at the Wee Center, a consultation organization for delinquent juveniles. He also plans to speak publicly to reach out to youths.

“Right after I was expelled, I was in such a desperate state that I tried to kill myself,” Kim said.

“I want to share my difficulties and experiences with boys and girls who are going through a desperate time in their lives.”


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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