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Lesson 5: ​Young Oak Kim: Hero and Humanitarian
​Activity 5.2:  How is Colonel Young Oak Kim an Unsung Hero?

If I survive this war, I will devote my life to the betterment of the community I belong to."  - Young Oak Kim

Students deepen their understanding of the life of Young Oak Kim as a U.S. citizen and war hero and they annotate; discuss an excerpt from the biography, Unsung Hero: The Colonel Young O. Kim Story, by Woo Sung Han; and construct a biopoem.

Source: Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies


Activity Questions

  1. How is Young Oak Kim an unsung hero?

  2. Why is it important to study the stories of individuals like Young Oak Kim?

  3. ​How did Colonel Kim make critical contributions to the Japanese American community, as well as to the progress of civil rights of all racial minority communities in the United States?

​Instructional Strategies

  • To support this lesson, use Lesson 5 Teachers' Guide and Lesson 5 Presentation found at Lesson 5

Introduction to Book

  • Show the slide of Amadeus Cho, a 19-year-old Korean-American superhero in Marvel comics. 

  • Ask students to share responses to  three questions:

    • What is a hero?

    • How is Amadeus Cho a superhero?

    • What real-life heroes can you name?

  • Use the slide, What is an Unsung Hero?" to review qualities of a hero.

  • Introduce the book Unsung Hero: The Colonel Young Oak Kim Story by reading the excerpt from the                                          back cover (above).

  • Distribute the Characteristics of a Hero Worksheet and review directions. Ask students to i                                                              one characteristics of Young Oak Kim (based on your reading of the back cover) and help them fill in                                        the table for that characteristic. (EX:  Kim was "BRAVE" because he served in the army.)

Reading the Text

  • Provide students with one of the following:

  • As students read the excerpt, give them the annotation chart and direct them to annotate as they read.  Have them highlight contributions to the Korean American community; the Japanese community; and communities of minorities, women, and children.  

  • In addition, as a prewriting activity for their biopoem, have them complete the Characteristics of a Hero worksheet. This could be done during the reading/annotation or afterwards in pairs or small groups.

Compose BioPoems

  • Provide students with the BioPoem Template. Have students pair up and complete the poem.

  • Have students copy their biopoems onto construction or poster paper.  Encourage students to draw, decorate or add photos to their bio-poem.

  • Post the poems around the classroom (or online) and conduct a “Gallery Walk.”  Students walk around the room and view all the posters/poems. You might also give them 5-10 little star stickers to mark favorite lines in the poems.

​Quick Write

  • Provide students with the following prompt and allow them five minutes to quick-write their response. Call on student volunteers to share their reflections.

  • Note: This Quick Write may be used as a prewriting activity for the Argumentative Essay Summative Assessment.

  • Student Prompt: 

    • What contributions did Colonel Kim make to the Koran American community, Japanese American community, and the civil rights of all racial minority communities in the United States?

​Closing Activity

  • Use the Quick Write sharing to segue into discussion of Activity Questions.



Amadeus Cho as himself and in his Hulk form on a variant cover of The Totally Awesome Hulk #1 (December 2015) (Source: Wikipedia


Unsung Hero: The Col. Young O. Kim Story  by Edward Chang (PDF)


This book isn't just another tale of a war hero. Kim has a special place not only in American and Korean history but also in world history. Col. Kim served in World War II and the Korean War as a minority officer leading the U.S. Army's 100th Infantry Battalion. Kim, a Korean American, led the famous Japanese American battalion and helped bridge the racial and cultural gap between the two ethnicities. His dedication, integrity, spirit and loyalty earned him the respect of white officers in a time when racism was prevalent.

A champion of human rights, Kim believed that helping others was the best way to prevent strife and ultimately war. Kim promised himself during World War II. When he retired, Kim helped establish numerous nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles, California. He spent the rest of his retired years serving underprivileged, and minority populations such as orphans, adoptees, women and Asian Americans.  (from Unsung Hero: The Colonel Young Oak Kim Story, back cover)  Source: Amazon

Biopoem Template (PDF)

Characteristics of a Hero Worksheet (PDF)

Annotation Guide (PDF)

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