The Korea Herald


Former child genius to become full-time university professor

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Jan. 14, 2014 - 19:13

    • Link copied

Kim Ung-yong.(Chungbuk Development Corporation-Yonhap News) Kim Ung-yong.(Chungbuk Development Corporation-Yonhap News)
Kim Ung-yong, a former South Korean prodigy once heralded as the smartest soul on Earth, is about to fulfill his overdue dream of becoming a professor.

Chungbuk Development Corporation announced Monday that 51-year-old Kim was leaving its staff to serve as a professor at Shinhan University in Gyeonggi Province.

Kim taught students as a part-time lecturer at prestigious universities including Yonsei, Sunkyunkwan and KAIST, but he said it had always been his goal to become a full-time professor.

“I am very excited to teach at a university, which had long been my dream,” Kim said of his new job. “I will devote myself to teaching the next generation.”

Even taking his newest job into account, his resume is far from extraordinary. This is often stressed by his critics, who wondered why the former whiz kid ― once listed as having the world’s highest IQ by the Guinness Book of World Records ― came to lead such an “ordinary” life.

Kim reportedly was able to speak four languages by age 5, and grabbed international attention by solving differential equations on a Fuji TV show in Japan.

The pint-sized celebrity was working at NASA even before he hit puberty, and nothing seemed to hold him back. That was, until he decided to call it quits.

Kim left the U.S. facility in 1978 and entered Chungbuk National University three years later as a civil engineering major.

Media swooped down on him and branded him a “failed genius.” Heavy coverage portrayed his life as a case of education for gifted kids gone horribly wrong.

Regardless, Kim has maintained that he has led a happy life. Kim said he did not want to draw attention as a genius or become famous, and said he wanted a normal life with his family and friends.

By Yoon Min-sik (