Seoul, South Korea


Photographer: Habibul Haque

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Seoul-based South Korean lawyer Young Joon Kim is a trustee of Asian University for Women, an independent, international university based in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Founded in 2008, the university’s mission is to educate a new generation of women leaders. It draws its students from around 15 countries across Asia, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria and Vietnam, admitting them solely on the basis of merit, regardless of their family’s income level. As a trustee, Young Joon helps set the university’s policies, offers advice on key strategic decisions and strives to raise its profile around the world. Nearly all of AUW’s students are on full scholarships. Young Joon leads a group of supporters in South Korea, among them Ewha Womans University, the world’s oldest women’s university, and Export-Import Bank of Korea. Young Joon grew up in South Korea in the 1960s and early 1970s before moving with his family to the United States when he was 16. After an undergraduate degree at Yale, he studied law at Harvard Law School. Since graduating, he has worked with the same law firm for 33 years successively in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and now Seoul. As well as his work with Asian University for Women, Young Joon mentors young North Koreans who have fled their homeland and are now studying at universities in South Korea. Through the Korea Unification Leadership Academy, he brings them and South Korean students together to think about the kind of roles they might play in a unified Korea.