Stephen Kim was my senior advisor for intelligence from 2007-2009. After my confirmation as Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance in August 2002, I created a cross-bureau team to work on North Korea matters. Our North Korea team evolved over time, including technical and implementation experts. Stephen’s interest in coming to the Verification and Compliance Bureau from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory offered regional expertise that our team had not previously had.
Stephen was a native of South Korea. His native background, combined with his knowledge of nuclear proliferation matters, made him a formidable expert on our verification needs and the approach to fulfilling them. I asked Stephen to accompany me to meetings on North Korea, and to South Korea for a UN conference on proliferation and deferred to his judgment on all press interviews and asked him to participate with me. He had my complete trust.
Before Stephen arrived, I had two individuals as my overall readers to keep me informed. Based on his knowledge of proliferation matters, and fluency with intelligence matters, I asked Stephen to take over those roles as he could readily synthesize a great deal of information across many topics and had a keen sense of what was most important and relevant to our foreign policy objectives.
I know Stephen to be a man of strong, decent character. I believe Stephen would never intentionally harm the national security interests of the United States. As a consequence of this, our government is being denied the unparalleled expertise of a national expert on North Korea at a time when such expertise is critical for analyzing and advising policy makers seeking to address the challenges they pose. As a consequence, a fine man is being denied employment while incurring the tremendous legal expenses necessary to try to prove his innocence.
I do know that if I again stepped into a position of senior responsibility in the Department of State or elsewhere in the government tomorrow, I would immediately bring Stephen onto my staff to assist me in navigating the treacherous waters of policy, in following and interpreting the information available to us, including from intelligence, and in working to assist the press in informing the American people of the positions taken by the US Government and the reasons behind those positions. I only hope that after all this he would still be willing to serve.
The Honorable Paula A. DeSutter
Former Assistant Secretary of State (2002-2009)
I have great respect for Stephen Kim. While we were at the State Department we worked closely together over an extended period of time and had many discussions regarding nuclear proliferation issues. I believe Stephen’s approach during these conversations reflected both the seriousness of the issues and his unequivocal support of the interests of the United States.
Stephen, without question, was a unique and valuable asset on nuclear proliferation issues and on issues related to North Korea. He has the language, the culture, the historical understanding, the insight into the political process – the gamut – which helped us get a window into a world we did not have much insight into.
Through the time spent with Stephen, I came to know him as a man of honor and I have the highest confidence in his integrity. The U.S. needs Stephen’s help on the difficult issues we face with North Korea and Asia, now more than ever.
James H. McNally
Senior Advisor to the
Assistant Secretary of State for
Verification, Compliance, Implementation
I was very surprised at the news here in Korea about Dr. Stephen Kim. Considering his excellent reputation in many quarters, including among Yale alumni, I cannot imagine that he is the type of a person who would ever commit the kind of act for which he is being accused.
Dr. Steven Kim earned his Ph.D. at Yale and has worked for more than a decade in the field of national intelligence and military strategy at various federal agencies, including the U.S. State Department and Defense Department. I understand that his analytical capabilities and understanding of intelligence information was so outstanding that even former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger praised him. I also was told that he made significant contributions to the efforts to resolve issues regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.
Dr. Kim is known for being a passionate and responsible public servant and is a patriotic U.S. citizen. It is not in his character or upbringing to leak classified information. It defies all logic and goes against everything he has worked for all his life.
Not surprisingly, despite their accusations, even the prosecutors have not found any concrete and hard evidence against him, according to media reports.
I believe that falsely accusing such a talented and capable person as Dr. Kim, who has long dedicated himself to the U.S. government, is a tragedy of the first order and is a great loss for the national interest of the United States.
Therefore, I do hope that Dr. Kim’s name is cleared as soon as possible and he is given the opportunity to make the outstanding contributions to the U.S. government that he is uniquely suited to make. The U.S. government needs a man of Dr. Kim’s caliber, with his understanding of the Korean experience and the calculus of North Korea, now more than ever. It is rare to find all these qualities in one man.
I hereby give my support to Dr. Steven Kim and express my gratitude and encouragement to all those who have joined the effort to clear his name.
Member of the National Assembly
Republic of Korea
I had the pleasure of working with Stephen Kim at the State Department’s Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation from the time he was assigned as a Senior Advisor in 2007 through February 2009. I was also one of Assistant Secretary DeSutter’s Senior Advisors and Stephen and I had offices in the same spaces.
I found Stephen to be an exceptional addition to our North Korean Issues Team. He brought political and cultural insights that were previously lacking. His analysis of available information was both clear and insightful and offered State Department leadership a nuanced interpretation of often ambiguous raw intelligence.
I am confident that Stephen did not intentionally harm national security interests and I hold his integrity in the highest regard. As for his considerable talents, I know that he offers a unique set of abilities that should be exploited by United States decision makers as they work the difficult issues relating to North Korea and the future of Asia.
K. David Nokes
Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for
Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
Twenty years ago, I had the immeasurable good fortune to meet Stephen Kim.
We were both incoming students at Georgetown University, lugging suitcases and boxes into our dorm rooms. As we passed in the hall, our eyes met; when we were formally introduced later that day, we both recalled that first, silent meeting, when without speaking we recognized each other as kindred spirits. Throughout those years at Georgetown, Stephen and I were fast friends.
Our friendship was not the typical one based on talk about girlfriends and parties, but rather one founded on a shared intellectual commitment to truth and a shared moral commitment to justice. Instead of worrying about whether our beliefs were popular or comfortable, we rather focused on whether we ourselves were convinced by what we read, heard, or thought. Be it politics, history, or philosophy, I always found myself thinking harder and focusing more clearly in my discussions with Stephen than even in my most challenging seminars. Stephen became a real model of intellectual and moral integrity, and I doubt that I can ever repay him for all that he gave me.
But now, I find myself granted the opportunity to repay him in some small way. Stephen finds himself thrust into a very difficult and unfair predicament, one where his very integrity is being challenged through questionable charges. The idea that Stephen would in any way act to undermine American national interests is ludicrous.
He is a man of great moral and intellectual integrity, one who cares about truth, justice, and honor more than fame or fortune. But unfortunately, the character of a good and noble man counts for little when the government wants to make a point and has unlimited resources to do so. Indeed, the government seems intent on dragging out this trial in the most Kafkaesque way, depleting Stephen of his energy, spirit, and resources. To defend his freedom and, more importantly, his honor, Stephen will need substantial moral and financial support from his family and friends. I implore you to help our good friend in this struggle.
Michael R. James
Department of Political Science
I am adding my voice to support Stephen in his struggle to extricate himself from what seem like a Kafkaesque episode of government overreach. By now all of you will have gathered the elements of the story which have landed him in this spot. It is incumbent on all of us who know Stephen – and those of us who thought we knew what kind of government we were voting into office – to speak out in his defense and offer moral and material support to him and his family.
Stephen and I met and later became roommates at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service over 20 years ago. I remember very clearly the reason I had applied to Georgetown. It promised a lively education through the interaction of diverse points of view, organized through the ethical prism of the Jesuit tradition. The classroom experience lived up to that billing, but even more so, the interaction with friends like Stephen cemented an educational experience that was special. Stephen in particular was always the moral compass of our group. His passion for principled debate was inspirational and I firmly believe that in the end, I learned much more from him than the organized classroom experience.
To now be confronted with the accusation of having acted in an unprincipled way and undermined US national interests is completely out of character with the person I have come to know and respect. Digging into the situation it has become clear that all of us who know him need to help him defend himself and we urge anyone who reads these pages to join in that effort.
Global Head of Equity Sales
I first met Stephen Kim in the year 1992 as a new Ph.D. student at Yale. As a student studying abroad, the United States of America was strange and unfamiliar. I highly appreciated Stephen’s help in elucidating American culture.
Stephen personally helped me for all eight years I spent at Yale. For that, I am sincerely thankful and will always remember him as a man of honor, dignity, and integrity. I gained many things from America. However, getting to know Stephen was my biggest blessing.
I remember Stephen as a person who always abided by the rule of law. He respected the American principles of justice and opportunity for all and always placed his country before himself. It is a shame that the U.S. government has imposed litigation against Stephen. The current situation in the Korean peninsula needs Stephen more than ever. He contributed so much to the security of East Asia and has dedicated his entire career to the area.
I give Stephen my full support.
Jeong Jong Ho
Graduate School of International Studies
Seoul National University
Stephen and I formed a strong bond of friendship during our time at Harvard that has endured these past 20 years. Though our areas of focus in graduate school were different, we found many areas of common interest and became fast friends.
From the beginning, it was easy to discern and appreciate his keen intellect, strong sense of integrity, and great sense of humor. Through our studies together in seminars and in our debates on myriad topics while roommates and through our weekly tennis matches, he showed himself to be an exceptional student of world affairs and a fine exemplar of sportsmanship. He is a great person, academic and professional, and he remains a close friend. Stephen has my full and unconditional support.
Vice President, Corporate and Business Development
Check Point Software
I have known Stephen since 1992 when we both arrived at Yale to work toward our respective doctorate degrees. We had very different backgrounds, but we quickly and permanently formed a tight bond of friendship. We spent quite a lot of time together, talking about the intersection of economics and politics, about Korea’s rise from poverty, and America’s place in the world. Through such intellectual and personal conversations, I had ample opportunity to observe his true character.
Stephen is just not the type of person who would harm his country. I remember vividly a quarrel that he and I once had about which country is better, Korea or the U.S. Stephen emphatically stressed America’s superiority, particularly in terms of protecting its citizens and their civil rights.
Stephen has never pursued fame or fortune. Sometimes, I did not understand that, given his intellect and the positions he held. He is honest, unassuming and straightforward.
Stephen has made valuable contributions to this country and has made his fellow Korean-Americans proud of his accomplishments.
I can personally attest that Stephen is not the type of person that this indictment tries to imply that he is.
I am a college professor and have taught multitudes of students over the past 13 years in various U.S. universities. How can I continue to assure my students that this country protects them and their rights as free citizens when even patriotic scholars like Stephen are unjustly put through this type of ordeal?
Without a single doubt in my mind, I support Stephen 100%.
Sunghyun Henry Kim
Department of Economics
As a longtime and close friend of Stephen Kim, I write this letter of support for him. We became friends in 1987 when both of us were college students and we built an even closer and more trusting relationship when I moved to Washington DC in 2000. On numerous occasions, I consulted with him for my personal concerns and professional decisions. He always gave his willing ears, brilliant scholarly advice and unlimited personal support. I am a professor whose research covers international security and politics on the Korean peninsula. I can say with no hesitation that never once, and in no manner, has Stephen mentioned anything that would have been possibly regarded as infringing or compromising his professionalism and ethics as a public servant, especially regarding information or opinions related to North Korea. I am extremely dismayed over the recent case against him and the heavy burden placed on Stephen and his family. If a fair opportunity is provided, I am confident that the truth will vindicate his honor and he has my full support.
Youngshik Daniel Bong, Ph.D.
School of International Service
Stephen Kim is among the most capable, accomplished and honorable scholars I have ever known with impeccable standards in terms of his integrity and honesty, and remains one the most devoted persons to public service for his country.
Yonsei Law School
Stephen Kim has been a close and valued friend for the entirety of my adult life—well over 20 years. He is quite possibly the most ethical and patriotic person I have ever encountered.
Early in our adulthood, we had many discussions about the roads we could and would take. As has been the case all along, even back then, Stephen wasn’t motivated by money or power. Instead, his career aspirations were always noble in character and that set him apart from his peers. He could have worked anywhere for any organization but instead Stephen intentionally and consistently always held to his desire to aid the U.S. government in the pursuit of global security and peace.
Never flippant about his duties, Stephen takes his work very seriously. Many times, I have asked him (as any friend would) for details on what he does, what he’s been working on, or where he is traveling for business. Every single time without exception, Stephen has steadfastly replied, "I can’t talk about my work." Period. End of conversation.
In fact, Stephen is exceedingly thoughtful and cautious in everything he does. When I have sought his advice on professional and personal matters, he has always begun his analysis and consideration of my issue by articulating the boundaries within which the issue must be framed. Whether it be my role as an attorney or as a mother or wife, Stephen always tried to analyze the situation from my point of view. That is who Stephen is and that is his strength.
Stephen is a man of the highest integrity and his professional motives have always been of the purest kind. He loves America and has ardently protected it and served it throughout his career. A more perfect "model citizen" you could not imagine. Based on my 20-plus years of personal observations and experiences, there is not even a remote possibility that he could have done anything that might bring harm to our country.
I fully stand behind and support Stephen and am confident that justice will prevail and lead to his exoneration.
Eunice E. Lee
Vice President & Associate General Counsel
I have known Stephen and his family for well over two decades. He has been and is one of my closest and most valued friends. Based on our long friendship, I know him to be a dedicated and brilliant professional, and a man who places integrity and honesty above all else.
I recall discussing Stephen’s decision after completing his doctorate at Yale to forego a career in academia in order to work in public service where he believed he could make the most direct and active contribution to society and international stability. This was a difficult decision since it meant most of his work would remain unknown to the public as well those closest to him. In fact, despite our long and close friendship, it is only recently through public press articles that I have learned of some of Stephen’s actual and numerous contributions in the area of national security. Yet, I have always known Stephen to be proud of his work, which was not surprising since he has always placed service and results over recognition from others.
While I believe that Stephen ultimately will be vindicated, the current proceedings have taken a significant toll on Stephen and his family, both emotionally and financially. This is truly saddening. Moreover, given the perilous times and rising tension in the Korean peninsula, I believe that Stephen’s dedication and abilities are sorely missed, now more than ever, given that he could be contributing so much to the security of East Asia (among other areas) to which he has dedicated his entire career.
Jun Hee Kim
Attorney at Law
I have stayed very close to Stephen Kim since 1992 when he and I first met as new Ph.D. students at Yale. Through our close interaction of nearly two decades, I have been able to thoroughly appreciate the highly developed mind and strong character that he possesses.
Stephen has always been remembered as the man of highest honor and integrity by Yale alumni. He is a very special person who has outstanding intellect and character. We are best friends to each other and share a passion for foreign affairs and national security issues, especially as it relates to the Korean peninsula. People who have heard him or talked to him come away with a common and unanimous impression – there is no one like him, in the United States or in South Korea.
I believe the litigation that has been brought against Stephen is baseless and malicious. No one has ever doubted Stephen’s work ethic as an analyst or personal ethics as a person.
For the US government to dispose of the extraordinary talent that Stephen embodies surely undermines US security interests and is a great setback for the United States. It is a shame.
Dean and Professor
Graduate School of International Studies
I still remember the first time I met Stephen Kim, which was over a decade ago. His combination of intelligence, integrity, and wit was apparent immediately. Stephen is someone I trust, and I am proud to be his friend.
I have been Stephen’s friend for over a quarter of a century since we first met at Georgetown University. Both Stephen and I have changed over the years in terms of appearance, family size and vocation. Today Stephen seems to have more gray hair than I – something hardly expected when we were young. But given what he is going through, I can understand why.
Since our time at college, my friendship with Stephen evolved even as we were geographically apart. Sometimes we would go for months without communicating. Emails here and there, occasional face-to-face meetings whenever we could. It did not matter, though, as we would not feel any gap. Once we reunited, it felt as if I had met him yesterday.
I have respected Stephen ever since that first day in college for his impregnable conviction and persistent pursuit of excellence. Above all, I respect Stephen for being a man of honor and integrity, and my respect for him grew stronger over the years. Stephen has character, a deep character.
Although we have both grown older, Stephen’s core character has not changed and I know him well enough to say that he would not act in the manner that he is being accused of. While I am confident that he will ultimately be vindicated by the truth, I sincerely hope that the U.S. government would simply cease its current behavior and give him back his life.
Lee International IP & Law Group