This week with my research, I’ve been focusing a lot on one specific student, Kim Kyusik, since we have so many records on him available. He is by far one of the most documented of our East Asian students as well as he was extremely prominent in what he did after he graduated Roanoke.
Kim Kyusik was a Korean student of ours who wrote several pieces that can be found in the Roanoke Collegian as well as he has a book that can be found in the Library’s General Collection titled “Lure of the Yangtze”. Kim also gave a speech at his graduation from Roanoke that we have transcribed in the Collegian. If it was not obvious by now, Kim Kyusik graduated with a degree in English and he was the second Korean in the world to receive a Bachelors of Arts with the first Korean also being a Roanoke College Graduate.
Kim published several other books after graduation however, he became a prominent figure in politics. He represented Korea at the Paris Peace Conference, known for the Treaty of Versailles, after World War I where he advocated for Korean independence from Japan. He also became a member of a nationalist party pushing for the Korean independence known as the Korean National Revolutionary Party. Eventually, Kim became the Vice President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea due to his fluent English and ability to teach other members English. His pushes for Korean independence later turned to Korean reunification after the Korean War years after he had retired from politics. This push for reunification caused Kim to be kidnapped and taken to North Korea where he died near Manpo.
Kim’s daughter has also visited Roanoke College during the 1990s in order to get a better understanding of her father’s time here. She gave an interview to a newspaper which can be read here where she says that she thinks Roanoke College was a special place for her father.
Another interesting bit about Kim Kyusik is that he was mentioned during a recent trip to South Korea in 2019 a by Roanoke College students that were studying North Korean refugees that can be read here. The students also met with Kim’s granddaughter.
Below are photos of Kim, one being his Roanoke College graduating class photo.