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An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim (김영훈) from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One)

June 8, 2019

YoungHoon Kim United Sigma Korea Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing President

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: June 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,810

ISSN 2369-6885


Mr. YoungHoon Kim (김영훈) is the President of United Sigma Korea. He discusses: background; early life giftedness and talents; early life academic performance; acceptance and nurturance of giftedness in societies; being the president of United Sigma Korea; post-secondary training; Harvard University; joining and founding societies; and myths about the gifted and talented.

Keywords: education, giftedness, intelligence, Korea University, music, South Korea, YoungHoon Kim, United Sigma Korea, Yonsei University.

An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim (김영훈) from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community: President, United Sigma Korea (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let us start from the top, what is family background, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, and educational attainment, and so on?

Mr. YoungHoon Kim (김영훈): Hi, before saying my story, I appreciate talking with this journal and being a part of your interviewee series. To put myself shortly, I have studied philosophy and theology in Korea University and Yonsei University, which are called Sky Universities (or Ivy league in South Korea), as well as studying B.M. piano in a music college.

My full-memberships may be the most interesting. The scores are accredited by some professional psychologists, of OLYMPIQ Society, Mega Foundation for IQ 175, sd15 and Epimetheus for IQ 160, sd15, I am also working as a president in the United Sigma Korea with ESK, IQ 175, sd15 society, which was founded in 2007 by Hankyung Lee, M.D.

All right. So, let me start to talk of my background so long as I could in this section, my name, YoungHoon Kim noted, I  share culture with South Korea. South Korea has been best known as the highest level of education and top-ranking I.Q. country in the world. According to the Pearson data, South Korea has been top ranked on the education level in the world, and also placed as 1st I.Q. country in the world by other sources.

I suppose these results might be applied to my biography, as you shall see. Firstly, then, what was my family background? I have parents from South Korea. Those who always have placed the highest value in education. This value has made me free to find my field in academia that I am sure.

Then, you may question, if so, what is your parents background, especially, background of their education? In terms of which, first, my mother had a Ph.D. and teacher’s license in school officially from the government in South Korea. Currently, she has worked in a court of law at the conciliation committee of a criminal suit, after retiring as chairman of the community college.

Second, my father has studied economics and finance on the official degree programme in the national university. He has worked in a state-owned company (public enterprise) and lease business to kind of commercial shops.

But even if they have good education compared to others as my parents respect the higher knowledge as the best; thus, they have led me to study in the best university rather than the normal as well as than working in the big enterprise, say, Samsung. Honestly, I appreciate this, or my parents’ values and consistent support.

Next, trying to say my background of religion should be good for understanding my story. Apart from having my childhood with Buddhism (mostly from my grandmother), since in adulthood, I have the religious view from Christianity, but  that which is specifically from “Ecumenical” perspectives. In respect of that means my belief (or faith) is not standing on the fundamentalism of a traditional religion, but based on “Inclusivism” or inclusivity. You may find the religious writings of the great philosophy or theology in (not I), for example, William James, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Paul Tillich, Karl Rahner, etc., that I am studying. Right, I suppose this would be enough for the beginning conversation of my story. The remaining is what shall follow. So, let us move to the next questions.

2. Jacobsen: What were some early notifications in life about the high level of giftedness? Were special talents coinciding with the exceptional general intelligence level?

Kim: If the standardized test from the professional psychologist is scientific or reliable, my IQ score would be considered as what you mentioned of the exceptional general intelligence level. However, since the reason part of me does not agree with the high level of giftedness or exceptional general intelligence level found in the human intelligence, I should refer to another part of me which partly agree with those terms from biology and psychology.

As I noted, my major in the beginning, at 18 years, was piano with a focus on classical music. It was because I wanted to be a professional composer and pianist in the field. Somebody could say that this presents my talent because currently I am studying in the top university in South Korea.

Even though my scholastic test score is one of the highest among peers, I was always not suited in the system of the traditional education. That is why I had changed my focus to art. (Surely, I changed again from art to human studies.) For me, the system of the traditional education institute was meaningless. I learned nothing from it. I still do not understand whether or not middle and high school are needed to exist in the current form. My supposition is surely not positive since I had experienced most of things in there that had nothing systematic at all. Remember that all the contents in classes are in the textbook. However, teachers are playing the role of a  parrot; that is, all of what the teachers were saying and doing were the same the entire time that I was in the system. Importantly, most of the teachers had seemed that they have unethical personality and acts, which I had a look at, in detail, face to face.

My conclusion is that, currently, more or less, in South Korea, the students in the traditional high school are just for the occupation of the teacher or their salary, and vice versa. I just declined the role for them, but I am in the top university in South Korea. If so, what happened to me? What I tend to say is not that I have “implicitly” high intelligence but looks like “explicitly” have it from identifying the incomplete system of the education and finding the reality of that.

3. Jacobsen: How was academic performance in early life for you?

Kim: When I was very young, as a student in a primary school, depending on my memory, it was excellent compared to others in the test score of language, arithmetics, knowledge, painting, music, etc. There is nothing to study, but I attained good score compared to the others. I was appointed a student representative through a vote including all the students. Until, at age 10 years old, I obtained several awards in writing, painting, mathematics, leadership, and piano.

However, in the high school as I noted before, all of that in the high school was false, or so I felt as an opinion. This made me change my focus not on the studying knowledge but music and art through playing classical piano, though I had achieved the first place on the mathematics among all my peers.

Graduating from high school, firstly, I attended B.M. classical piano in one music college (university). Completed 2 years out of 4, I changed my major to humanities and studied a variety of fields on the academic degree B.A. programme in Korean Ivy league, called, as noted, the Sky Universities. Additionally, I also completed a diploma in London. Now, I am preparing to attend Ph.D. programme in Harvard University, Graduate School.

4. Jacobsen: If you reflect on the acceptance and nurturance of exceptional intelligence levels in the young, where do societies succeed in this? Where do societies fail in this?

Kim: Reflecting for my case, if I am right, there is neither the acceptance nor nurturance of exceptional intelligence levels in the young. Even if I or somebody has that kind of cognitive level, it is hard to find and nurture of that sort of thing.

Suppose if there is a child who has, say, extremely high intelligence, but having at most a little more knowledge than 5 years older age group, but less than his parents or teachers, then, how can they notice his child is exceptionally gifted? Of course, they may know their child is better than others, and so what? It is discovered about many children but their teachers or parents presumably regard him as just an excellent student. That is all.

This thought has led me to conclude the human intelligence could be measured when one he is fully capable of exercising their free will and ability to act freely with enough knowledge. That is why there are two kind of standardized test for the human intelligence. One is for childhood and another is for adulthood. Most of the psychologists also think the adulthood intelligence is much more significant than the childhood since the former is a full human. The childhood intelligence is relative considering each prerequisite learning, but the adulthood intelligence is crystalized much more. That is, not fully crystalized is subjective but this perspective is explicitly objective.

Concerning the role of societies for exceptional gifted people, they are doing very well. I and societies think that kind of people need to show the best academic performance in academia that I agree at all. If we suppose there is a gifted person having extremely high IQ, then s/he has demonstrated the exceptional performance in the field like Einstein. In contrast to this, if s/he has extremely high IQ but not having matched performance with that, one of two might be false. What is false? Well, the correct answer is up to you.

5. Jacobsen: You are working as the president in the United Sigma Korea. Why? What is the long-term plan as an organization?

Kim: As the president of USK society, let me put the introduction briefly. The United Sigma Korea (USK) is the exclusively intellectual society with IQ 180 S.D.16, as the first and the oldest high IQ society in South Korea, higher than the Mensa IQ 132 S.D. 16 and even higher than the Mega Society IQ 176 S.D.16. With an international scope, USK is 3 sigma, 4 sigma, and 5 sigma umbrella society, which was founded in 2007 by Dr. Hankyung Lee, M.D.

The USK has, say, the eminent board members as follows: Dr. HanKyung Lee (Founder), Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis (vice-president), Scott Jacobsen (Executive Director & Editor in Chief), Professor Peter Singer (Philosopher), Dominic O’Brien (World Memory Champion), Dr. Ronald Hoeflin (founder of Mega & Prometheus Society), Professor Michael Ross (Evolutionary Biologist), Professor Susan Schneider (AI philosopher), Dr. Tom Chittenden (AI Scientist), Dr. Amit Shalit (New York State Medical Board), Dr. Bryan (Executive of Omega Society), and Karyn Peters (Executive of Prometheus Society).

USK exists to gather exclusively gifted people with extremely high levels of intelligence and education in order to provide an intellectual space to encourage the sharing and exploring of academic, artistic, ethical, literary, logical, philosophical, and scientific ideas in a productive and respectful manner.

USK may have significant meaning enough as one of I.Q. societies in the world, especially from the Asian region. South Korea always ranks amongst the highest in the globe based on reliable academic sources.

Once participating in USIA project to gather the gifted people who have the extremely high intelligence, you will be a member in the society from the best I.Q. and the highest education level country in the world.

USK welcomes prospective members of the selective and gifted amongst the highest levels in addition to those with high levels of education.


6. Jacobsen: Following high school, you studied for a BM in piano at a music college for two years. You switched to the humanities. Then you studied for a major in philosophy at Korea University. Then this switched into a change in the direction of studies, into theology at Yonsei University. You studied for a BA in UK. too. First question, how many undergraduate degrees have been earned now?

Kim: Hearing my academic journey so far, it gets me to reflect the thought that I have gone though a variety of huddles such as an Olympic player. As you noted in the question, I have studied, on official degree programme, in piano, organ, philosophy, linguistics, sociology, psychology, and now theology at Yonsei University. All the majors are certainly for my future doctor degree in philosophy of religion that I shall mention on another question.

Prima facie, what I was majoring in BM of piano is that surely, I tended to be an artist as a composer and pianist. However, I could not help but to “re-start”, not change, with my honest mind since on the one hand, even if majoring piano, I was pursuing to be a great scholar in academia. More back to my memory, after I realized my volition, knowledge is basically what the ‘myself’ threw himself into as his calling. Then, I accepted this calling or invitation with my greatest pleasure.

7. Jacobsen: You want to attend Harvard University, Divinity School for a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion. Why?

Kim: Next year, I will apply Harvard with a few of the prestigious graduate schools. I said, on the former question, about my academic journey from studying music to humanities. That is my next step to be a professional scholar. I am sure that you will see I am studying and researching in there, as always, soon.

So, you might give me another question, why philosophy of religion? That has possibly long stories for describing. However, I could try to put an explanation briefly. My one school, Yonsei University, and my department of theology, is not only the oldest university in South Korea but also the oldest department in the field. As Harvard and Yale, Yonsei is also not from sectarianism or not from denominational, but it is standing on the Ecumenicalism with Inclusivism.

That is, my drawing on theological studies also would be non-denominational and non-sectarian theology in academia. Accordingly, apart from describing of any part of theology, this is my reason to attend those great schools with their history.

8. Jacobsen: What is the reason for the wide spread of courses and coursework? How does this influence the overall framework of looking at the world?

You are a full-member of Mensa, TOPS, ISPE, TNS (Triple Nine Society), OATH (One in a Thousand), Epimetheus, Mega Foundation, and OLYMPIQ Society.

Among the exceptionally intelligent, a common trend is the gathering of titles, whether joining or founding societies. What are the standard reasons for this? What are the positive aspects of this? What are the negative aspects of this?

Kim: Most of the societies I am involved with have the qualification of the professional psychological test by a psychologist. This is far from several societies that just accept non-professional and even online IQ test. If we acknowledge, by any possibility, non-professional IQ test could measure the human intelligence, any of the society approved could be unsuitable for the name of a high-IQ society. In other words, adversely, if we do not count the professional psychological IQ test as not valid, all high-IQ society would be meaningless. This speculation is not on the subjective, but on the scientific attitude and the objective.

If the standardized IQ test from the academic psychology measure each individual IQ up to the cognitive level of 4 sigma, we are only able to measure that level of IQ accurately by that reliable test. Then, we could try to estimate the range of above 4 sigmas by the experimental test such as, say, the Titan or Mega test and the like.

Some have a kind of pervasive superstition about purchasing the professional test as possible. However, in South Korea, purchasing the copyright of the test is surely impossible and the psychologist only could have a right to buy the test after the approval from the psychological association. Furthermore, even if purchasing the copyright  of the test is possible illegally, the achievement of the ceiling score would be impossible at once. I have ever seen that case and the result is always signed by a psychologist as the official document. This means that the score from the professional psychological IQ test is not just with the counselee but together with a psychologist who officially certifies the score having responsibility to provide that the result is valid from the psychological association. There is no controversial matter at all unless the psychologist is flawed.

For another question of yours, it is partly right that participating in the high IQ society might give some sort of titles since the society or a professional clinical doctor like the United Sigma Korea or OLYMPIQ society do certify each cognitive level when joining. That is all I suppose. However, tending to join without having the qualification of the cognitive level, it gives rise to the attraction of some cheating problems. I recognize that there are many cheating issues. Most of the cases are from the score on non-verifiable tests like so-called high-range IQ test, which do not require any identification of the testee or have been compromised. Even though, most of the test makers are still scoring. That is another reason that we could not believe the score from that.

9. Jacobsen: What are some myths about the gifted and talented? What truths dispel them?

Kim: To say honestly, most of judgement for the gifted or talented should be corrected. Mostly it is from marketing of Genius. We all are human and there is no controversy. Suppose that here are animals such as dogs. Dogs have also the cognitive ability like the 3-to-4-year-old children according to the science. Among those dogs, there could be a very superior dog having exceptional ability to perform what normal dogs could not do. However, the threshold of her ability will not ever reach the higher cognitive entity, the human brain.

The gifted or talented from the human could be figure out its limitation as one of species of living organisms. Even if the range of that is not actually far from between the highest and normal, we also could measure the range specifically (statistically) with the scientific methodology.

Then, what is giftedness and how we know that? The distinctions to the cognitive ability of the human is from whether or not we have appropriate knowledge. Yes. Knowledge and the academic performance are the best measurement of the human cognitive level. While the professional psychologist IQ test just require at most 2 hours, the best academic performance require an amount of years (or even whole life) with the best qualification.

So, if there is one arguing he has extremely high IQ, then the person should have the best academic performance or things like that, and vice versa such as Albert Einstein. In contrast, having only high IQ would verify that his high IQ is unreliable or nothingness.

If so, every doctor having Ph.D. are kind of a gifted? No, absolutely. In modern times, there is a huge amount of factory things providing Ph.D. stamps. For clarification in my words, the best academic performance would not refer to those enterprises. There is no easier game than attaining a Ph.D. in which the purpose of getting the qualification is simply, as we all know, to merely get a bundle of cash. What is the excellent academic performance is the best education institute and great scholars.

10. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, YoungHoon.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] President, United Sigma Korea – High IQ Society of the World Intelligence Network; Member, Olympiq society; Member, Mega Foundation; Member, Epimetheus society; Member, Helliq society; Member, Triple Nine Society (TNS); Member, International Society for Philosphical Enquiry (ISPE); Member, One in A THousand Society (OATHS); Member, Top One Percent Society (TOPS); Member, Mensa Korea.

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 8, 2019:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019:

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One) [Online].June 2019; 20(A). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, June 8). An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One)Retrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, June. 2019. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (June 2019).

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):June. 2019. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Mr. YoungHoon Kim from South Korea on Giftedness, Intelligence, and Diverse Education & Intellectual Community (Part One) [Internet]. (2019, June 20(A). Available from:

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