Charles Kim, 19, loyal friend and caring classmate

Elaine Helm

Friends and family at Northwestern and around the world continue to mourn Weinberg freshman Charles Kim and honor his memory.

Kim, 19, died Dec. 1 in his Sargent Hall dorm room in what medical examiners ruled a suicide.

About 250 NU students, family from Korea and China and classmates from Loomis Chaffee boarding school in Windsor, Conn., attended a memorial service for Kim on Dec. 7 at NU’s Jeanne Vail Chapel. Services simultaneously were held in Beijing; Seoul, South Korea; and San Jose, Calif.

At the memorial service, Isaac Chung, a McCormick freshman and Kim’s friend since high school, struggled to find the words to describe Kim.

“You can’t really be told what kind of person he was,” Chung said. “You had to experience it.”

Other speakers described Kim’s religious devotion, support for friends and family, athletic abilities and dedication to military service.

Kim’s father, Jong Shik Kim, said his son, who was involved in Naval ROTC at NU, wanted to become “an officer and a gentleman.”

During his time at NU, Kim also was involved in Asian-American Christian Ministries, the Korean-American Students Association and Asian fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon, friends said.

“He extended his loyalty without reservation and fostered it in his friends and family,” Kim’s younger brother, Edward, said at the service.

Jesse Payne-Johnson, a classmate from Loomis Chaffee, said he ran cross-country with Kim for two years and grew to understand the loyalty Kim showed his friends.

“I knew a Charles who genuinely cared more about others than most other people will ever be able to,” Payne-Johnson said during the service.

Weinberg freshman Jeff Park met Kim at an international student dinner during New Student Week and immediately struck up a friendship with the fellow Korean, Park said. The two learned they had attended rival high schools in Seoul.

Kim was not only a loyal and faithful friend, Park said, but also an intelligent and strong-willed individual. “He had pride in what he did,” Park said. “He took things seriously, even the small things.”

Kim’s freshman adviser, economics Prof. Robert Coen, said Kim stole his heart in their first meeting and often filled the awkward gaps in discussion during his freshman seminar. During the service, Coen called this the saddest time in his 30-year career.

“In this case,” he said, “I feel as if I’m a gardener who has lost one of his finest plants that never had a chance to bloom.”

Kim is survived by his parents and brother.

His family has requested that contributions be made to the Charles Kim Memorial Fund. Donations can be sent care of William Banis, vice president for student affairs, to Northwestern University, 633 Clark St., Evanston, IL 60208.