Michael Kim
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  • "One of the most incredible stories of personal bravery I’ve ever heard. One man equipped only with his passion and a group of people equally committed, helping North Koreans escape through a modern-day underground railroad."
    -Jon Stewart

  • "We enjoyed Mike Kim's visit to our campus. Despite all his achievements, he remains humble and serves as a role model for students. He was thoughtful, engaging, and engaged! Students, faculty, staff, and community members were inspired with his story and his passion. "
    -Dartmouth College

  • "Mike's story, bravery and vision blew our staff away. He put us on a roller coaster of emotions and inspired us to act for the greater good"
    -Founder and Managing Director of Arabella Advisors

  • "His intrepid effort to help four North Korean teenagers avoid arrest and repatriation on the journey from northern China to the British consulate in Shanghai is riveting, as is his insider knowledge of the perilous route refugees navigate across the borders of China, Laos and Thailand."
    -Publishers Weekly

Michael Kim

Before working at Deloitte applying technology to social issues, and now Switch communications, Mike gave up a financial planning business in Chicago, Illinois and left for China on New Year's Day 2003 with a one-way ticket and little more than two duffle bags. He had learned of the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans fleeing to China in search of food and freedom along a 6,000-mile modern-day underground railroad, which runs from Pyongyang to Bangkok and he knew he could help.

While living near the North Korean border, Mike operated undercover as a student of North Korean taekwondo, training and competing under two famous North Korean masters from Pyongyang—eventually receiving a second-degree black belt. He legally changed his name and conducted all North Korean operations while using an alias. He successfully led many sex trafficking victims to safety in Southeast Asia using drug trafficking routes in the region, all while enduring harrowing experiences, including interrogation, house arrest, and being held at gunpoint.

Mike authored the Wall Street Journal-featured book Escaping North Korea, a memoir about his experiences at the China-North Korea border helping North Korean refugees escape through a 6,000-mile modern-day underground railroad. He founded Crossing Borders, a nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees. Currently, his book and life story is being developed into a feature film.

Mike frequently appears in the media: He has been a guest on  Anderson Cooper 360, Fox News, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He has also been interviewed by BBC, NPR, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Al Jazeera. Mike speaks to audiences worldwide, including a variety of companies, universities, and government organizations on five continents.

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