Welcome to the memorial page for

Ilpyong John Kim

August 15, 1931 ~ October 23, 2017 (age 86)

Ilpyong J. Kim, of Storrs, CT died peacefully at home on Monday, October 23, 2017 after a long struggle with Lewy Body Disease, surrounded by his loving family.

Dr. Kim was born in a rural village in South Korea. A virulent illness took both parents from Dr. Kim and his two sisters when they were young. His uncle, on a nearby farm, took in and raised the siblings. His exemplary academic record and exposure to American missionaries led to his becoming an ROK Intelligence Officer during the Korean War. In 1953, Dr. Kim was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star for distinguished service and bravery.

Dr. Kim emigrated to the United States in 1953 after obtaining a scholarship to Asbury University in Kentucky.  He went on to obtain his Ph.D. at Columbia University, worked at the East-West Center in the early 1960s, and taught at various universities before becoming a Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Dr. Kim’s distinguished career spanned more than three decades.  He was the founding President of the International Council on Korean Studies (ICKS) in 1996-2000, a Fulbright Professor at Tokyo University of Japan in 1976-1977 and at Seoul National University in 1991-1992.  He was Visiting Professor at Columbia University and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for East Asian Research. He lectured at Brown, Indiana, Princeton, and Yale Universities, and gave a series of talks on the subject of U.S. foreign policy at American Cultural Centers in Japan, Korea, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.  He participated in the Scholar-Diplomat Program at the U.S. State Department, as well as research seminars organized by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. 

As a specialist in the comparative politics of China, Korea, and Japan, Dr. Kim authored or edited a dozen books and contributed more than thirty-five articles to academic journals and edited volumes.  Dr. Kim also served as editor of the five volume series “China in a New Era,” of which Chinese Politics from Mao to Deng; Chinese Defense and Foreign Policy; Chinese Economic Reform; and Reform and Transformation in Communist System (with Jane Shapiro Zacek) were published to wide acclaim.  His last book, Historical Dictionary of North Korea, was published in March 2003.

Dr. Kim was a devoted brother who sponsored his sister for education in the United States.  He was dedicated to the large family he married into, sponsoring not only his wife but all four of her sisters for studies and emigration to the U.S. as well.  Dr. Kim was a loving husband to his wife of 54 years, and a beloved father to his two daughters.  Although in many ways a typical absent-minded professor, he also spent a great deal of time with his children, introducing them to domestic politics and global issues at a young age, and inculcating a curiosity and openness to the ideas and experiences that the world had to offer.  He is survived by his sister Ruth, his many in-laws, his wife Hyunyong, his daughters and sons-in-law Irene, Kate, Rich, and Scott, and his grandson Ty.

Dr. Kim will be buried in a private service and remembered in a memorial service at a later date.  Those wishing to honor his memory with a gift are encouraged to donate to the Dr. Ilpyong Kim Fellowship in East Asian Relations at the University of Connecticut. 

Charitable donations may be made to:

The Uconn Foundation, Inc.
2390 Alumni Drive, Unit 3206, Storrs CT 06269

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