HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST; FOUNDER OF CROSSING BORDERS; AUTHOR; CONSULTANT
Before working at the Google Ventures funded Orbital Insight and Deloitte (with clients such as the World Bank and various US Government Organizations) applying technology to development, humanitarian and social issues, 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.
"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. "
"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" -Arabella Advisors
"Mike is the true definition of an Upstander – someone who selflessly stands up for the rights of others. He is so personally engaging and his story is truly inspiring. Our audience couldn’t get enough of him!” -Dallas Holocaust Museum
North Korea-China: A Modern Day Underground Railroad
In this riveting lecture, Kim tells the story of how he began to operate undercover as a student of North Korean taekwondo, training and competing under two famous North Korean masters from Pyongyang—eventually receiving a second-degree blackbelt—while leading North Korean refugees to China through the Underground Railroad. Upon his return to the U.S., he founded Crossing Borders, an actionable nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees.
Human Rights, Human Trafficking & Illicit Networks
Kim tells audiences around the world of the depraved networks in which he came in contact while in Asia. His extensive work has led him down many dangerous paths and through many harrowing experiences, which includes interrogation, house arrest and being held at gunpoint. During his four years in Asia, Kim came into contact with illicit networks and saw firsthand how they operate in the realm of organized crime, money laundering, drugs, and human trafficking.