Triumph at Last: a Korean-American Life
From hungry boy to respected businessman
By Rachel Lee
Everyone’s journey through life is different. Some people find themselves going off the rails and heading in the wrong direction whether they want to or not. Despite the suffering caused by difficult circumstances, those who never give up and fight on against adversity eventually become successful.
This proved to be true for Steven Soo Hyun Kim who describes his youth as “destitute” in his memoir “Triumph at Last: A Korean-American Life.” This book is Kim’s personal journey from his childhood in post-war rural Korea through to the present day in which he lives in the United States as a civil engineer and businessman. Pictures of him, his family and acquaintances are included midway through the book.
The author was born in Tokyo in 1936 to Korean parents during Japan’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula. When Korea was liberated after Japan surrendered at the end of the Second World War, Kim and his family returned to their homeland, Korea, which faced the challenges of poverty and an uncertain future. After years of struggle and hardship, he eventually managed to gain a degree in civil engineering from a decent university in Korea.
“The diploma I received was more valuable than anyone’s college diploma or doctorate degree,” he says in his book. “It was my hard work, hunger, illness, humiliation and glory.”
Kim then left for Vietnam to pursue job opportunities, a move that became a stepping-stone towards emigrating to the U.S. in 1970. He writes in the memoir that his Christian faith helped him overcome many difficulties during his life — and became the motivation behind his positive mindset and career choices. He now lives in Atlanta, Ga.
The book is not only an interesting reflection on his life but also depicts a dark period in Korean history.
However, the book should have been thoroughly proofread so that the text could help readers clearly understand it and enjoy a better understanding of Kim’s interesting experiences. Unfortunately, it contains many grammar and spelling mistakes as well as some expressions that only make sense when directly translated back into Korean. Nevertheless, this is a valuable book, especially for today’s younger generation who are far better off than their parents but often lack tenacity and give up easily.
Kim says, “I have been a constant dreamer, and have achieved one dream after another. Life is short, but our will to change our fate should be long remembered by the next generation.”