Korean area authority serves in important government position

Chong Youl Kim, an area authority in the Asia North Area, is an expert in the field of forensic odontology. He became well known in the field through his involvement in identifying victims in many major cases.

Because of his knowledge, training and experience, Brother Kim now sits in a prominent government position - director of the National Institute of Scientific Investigation (NISI).The institute is similar to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Korean institute evaluates and develops scientific evidence from reports provided by law enforcement agencies and attorneys. The organization takes care of medical-legal autopsies, and assists in arson investigation, automobile accident investigations and body identification.

As a dentist, Brother Kim has worked on the development of forensic odontology and has published many papers about it in international professional journals.

He proved his ability through involvement in the investigations of several Korean disasters. He helped in the investigation of the 1971 Daeyongak Hotel fire, the most devastating fire disaster ever in the world up to that time. In 1987, he handled the identification of victims of an airline disaster. He also identified many citizens who were killed in the Kwangju Massacre during a government crackdown against pro-democracy movements 16 years ago.

Shortly after taking over as director of NISI, Brother Kim was responsible for the identification of bodies in the Sampoong Department Store collapse that killed more than 500 people.

In spite of his qualifications, Brother Kim was surprised to be selected last year from his position as a professor at Yonsei University to fill such a prominent government opening.

A professor in the dental school at the university, the largest private university in Korea, Brother Kim was reluctant at first to leave education for the government post. However, a change in government policy made it possible for him to keep his position at the university.

Brother Kim studied at the dental college at Seoul National University and earned the dean's prize at graduation. After graduation, he studied forensic science at the university and with NISI.

He was born in 1941. When Korea gained independence from Japan in 1945, he was in the first grade. He is also a member of the first generation of Latter-day Saints in Korea.

On a spring day in 1951, Brother Kim met foreigners for the first time who were not soldiers. They were missionaries for the Church. At first, he was too shy to speak to them. Later, he was invited to the meetinghouse, a 30-minute walk from his house but near his high school. When he entered the new, white, clean building for the first time, an MIA meeting was going on.

After that, Brother Kim studied gospel principles with the missionaries and decided to join the Church. However, he couldn't get permission from his parents to be baptized. After waiting three years, in 1960 at the age of 18, he was finally baptized.

After baptism, Brother Kim was called to teach the gospel principles Sunday School class by branch president In Sang Han, who is now a member of the Seventy.

In 1973, Brother Kim became one of Korea's first bishops, ordained by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Quorum of the Twelve. He served as bishop for seven years, preparing many local young men to serve missions during that time.

He has served in a stake presidency, mission presidency, as a branch president, elders quorum president and Sunday School president. He also served for several years as a part-time instructor in the Church Educational System after it was established in Korea. Many students he taught in institute later became bishops, stake presidents, Relief Society presidents and Primary leaders and Church leaders in other capacities.

He received his endowment in the Provo Temple in 1973 during a visit to Utah for general conference.

The dedication of the Seoul Korea Temple in 1985 brought into his life what Brother Kim considered to be great blessings. One of them was being sealed to his wife, Young Sook Kim, who hadn't been able previously to enter a temple because of travel limitations. Since the dedication of the Seoul Korea Temple, he and his wife have served as ordinance workers there.

Brother Kim was called as a regional representative in 1993, serving in the Seoul Region. He held that position until he was called as an area authority last year.

As he grew in the Church after his baptism, the Church also grew in Korea. At the time of his baptism, there were only four branches and less than 200 members. Now there are 16 stakes, five districts and four missions with more than 80,000 members in Korea.

Brother Kim has expressed joy over being able to serve in many callings to help build the Church in his country.

Now, as a Church member in an important and visible government position, he said his desire is to promote equality and justice in his homeland. And also, as an area authority, he wants to magnify his calling, the calling he knows comes from heaven.

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