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B.K. Kim, founder of Kim International, passed away on July 28, 2023. Mr. Kim was widely known and respected throughout the jewelry industry during his many years of service. Today, his company’s legacy continues through his children, Mike Kim and Aeran Kim-Park.
His life is a fascinating story of survival and accomplishment. He was born in 1929 in a small village in North Korea, during a time of Japanese colonization. His farming parents were very poor and educational opportunities were limited, but he valued education and never missed a day of school. In 1945, at the end of World War II, the Japanese surrendered, Russian Communists took control and conditions deteriorated even more.
Feeling desperate, he organized an anti-communist student movement at his high school. North Korean authorities discovered them, and he spent 3 years in a prison/labor camp, enduring unspeakable conditions. After release in 1950, at the young age of 21, he joined an anti-Communist guerilla group. During encounters, he was shot and eventually escaped across the heavily armed border to the South. He would never see his parents again.
Mr. Kim’s next chapter began when he found employment as a K.P. (kitchen patrol) at a U.S. Air Force Base in South Korea. He worked very hard and taught himself to speak English. There he met his future wife, Kilcha, and they were married shortly after. Their family grew with the additions of children Charlie, Aeran and Mike.
He entered a translator program and became First Lieutenant in the South Korean Army. He served as translator for several U.S. Army generals, eventually becoming aide to a 4-Star General. 8 years later, he retired from the Korean Army with a rank of Major.
In 1974, he moved his family to Miami, Florida seeking freedom, educational opportunities for his children and a chance to build a better life. In essence, he came for the “American Dream”.
B.K. started working at a giftware import business. He saw the benefits of giftware/jewelry industry, and he moved his family to Dallas, Texas in 1975 to start his own business, Kim Imports (now Kim International). Times were tough at first, but his hard work and dedication paid off. Often, he would leave his family for weeks at a time, traveling and sleeping in a van and visiting stores to show his jewelry lines.
Mr. Kim loved to tell the story of his first trip to buy gold in Vicenza, Italy. Knowing very little, he got in a taxi at the airport and asked them to take him to a gold factory. Carrying $50,000 cash, he made his first major gold purchase, and the rest is history. The company continued to grow and expand through the years.
Although Mr. Kim retired several years ago, he still came to the office to visit and share the rich stories of his past. He enjoyed playing golf and watching the History Channel, but his greatest joy was his family which grew to include 9 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
His journey is truly an example of living the American dream. He began with nothing, but through his resolve and sacrifice, he built a successful jewelry business. Most importantly, everything he worked for wasn't for himself. It was for the family he loved.
KIM is proud to have served the independent jeweler for almost 50 years. Today, the thriving company is still family owned and operated in Dallas, Texas. KIM presents stylish collections of exceptional quality bridal and fine fashion jewelry that are affordable and relevant. Their signature Romance Bridal Collection is one of the most comprehensive and profitable programs in the industry. KIM also operates their own factory offering exceptional quality, custom design and quick delivery.
Bong Ki Kim. July 9, 1929 – July 28, 2023