Helen Kim

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This article is about the deceased politician. For the past Big Brother 15 contestant, see List of Big Brother 15 HouseGuests (U.S.) § Helen.
This is a Korean name; the family name is Kim.
Helen Kim
Helen Kim.png
Busan 1951
Born 1899
Seoul, Korea
Died 1970
Seoul, South Korea
Occupation politician, educator and social activist
Nationality Korean Empire, South Korea
Period 1899–1970
Genre Poetry, novel, essay, drama
Helen Kim
Hangul 김활란
Revised Romanization Gim Hwal-lan
McCune–Reischauer Kim Hwal-ran
Pen name
Hangul 우월
Hanja 又月
Revised Romanization Uwol
McCune–Reischauer Uwŏl

Helen Kim (also Kim Hwal-lan, 1899 - 1970) was a South Korean politician, educator, social activist, and feminist. Her pen name was Wuwol(우월;又月). Kim became the first woman in Korea to receive a PhD in 1931.[1] Kim is also the founder of the daily Korean newspaper, The Korea Times.[2]


Kim was born in Incheon to a large, modern family.[1] She attended Christian schools as a girl.[3] She attended Ewha Girls School. Between graduating from Ewha, she "established the national YWCA Korea" in 1922.[4] Then she went to Wesleyan College where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1924.[1] Kim went to Boston University for a master's in philosophy (1931) and then received her PhD in education from Columbia University in 1931.[1]

Kim later became dean of a girls' college (Ewha College) in 1931.[5] By the time of her death, this school will have become the largest women's university in the world.[6]

Kim was involved with Kŭnwuhwoe, which was a national women's organization that was dedicated to ending the "remaining Korean feudal practices and beliefs as well as colonial constraints."[1] However, she didn't stay involved for long because she was "unwilling to work with women who were Marxists and socialists."[7]

In 1945, Kim, O Ch'ǒn-sǒk, Yu Ŏk-kyǒm and Paek Nak-chun formed the Korean Committee on Education.[8] This committee worked with the United States in the Education Bureau, making recommendations about schools and their staff.[8]

Kim became director of the Office of Public Information for President Syngman Rhee in 1948.[1] In 1949, she attended the United Nations General Assembly in Boston.[3] As the director of the Office of Public Information, she recommended that an English newspaper was needed.[9] She chose the name of the paper, deciding that The Korea Times was the best name for representing the whole country.[9] The newspaper was published on November 1, 1950.[9]


Kim is a controversial figure because of her involvement in activities that were considered "pro-Japanese" during the Japanese occupation of Korea.[4] As the principal of Ehwa, she used her position to inspire others to encourage the men in their lives to join the military draft for the Japanese army.[10] Kim herself justified her actions as "necessary in order to keep Ewha open under harsh colonial policies" and could also be seen as consistent with Methodist Church teachings (Kim's religion).[3] Kim continues to be an agent of controversy, with her effigy being burned[1] and students protesting her statue.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kwon, Insook (2006-01-01). "Feminists Navigating the Shoals of Nationalism and Collaboration: The Post-Colonial Korean Debate over How to Remember Kim Hwallan". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 27 (1): 39–66. doi:10.1353/fro.2006.0018. ISSN 1536-0334. 
  2. ^ Kwon, Ji-youn (31 December 2013). "Korea Times Leads 'Personal Journalism'". The Korea Times. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Helen Kim and Ed Hymoff". Boston University. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Bahk, Eun-ji (31 May 2013). "Ewha Students Demand Ex-Leader Statue Down". The Korea Times. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "Dean of Girls College in Korea Speaks Here". Greeley Daily Tribune. 20 November 1931. Retrieved 2 November 2015 – via Newspaper Archive. 
  6. ^ "Helen Kim". Columbia 250. Columbia University. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Em, Henrey H. (2013). The Great Enterprise: Sovereignty and Historiography in Modern Korea. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 171. ISBN 9780822353577. 
  8. ^ a b Seth, Michael J. (2002). Education Fever: Society, Politics, and the Pursuit of Schooling in South Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. p. 37. ISBN 0824825349. 
  9. ^ a b c Yun, Suh-young (1 November 2011). "Helen Kim: Mother of the Korea Times". The Korea Times. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  10. ^ Palmer, Brandon (2013). Fighting for the Enemy: Koreans in Japan's War, 1937-1945. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780295992570. 

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