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Byung Sup Kim, 85; N. Korean Refugee Was a Human Rights Activist

September 28, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Byung Sup Kim, 85, a North Korean refugee and human rights activist beloved by Korean Americans in Washington state as "Elder Kim," died Sunday at his home near Seattle.

A native of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, Kim was jailed as a young man for protests against communism. He fled to South Korea at age 31, and worked as a newspaper and magazine publisher and teacher.

He led protests when North Korea seized the U.S. Navy spy ship Pueblo in January 1968 and took the crew hostage. He and his wife, Won Sook Hong, emigrated to the United States with their six children in 1977. Hong died in 1997.

Kim helped organize a commemoration of the centennial of Korean immigration to the United States, advised the Korean Peninsula Unification Research Center and worked with medical missionaries to North Korea. He also organized a memorial in South Korea on the first anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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