I was riveted to the story of the Kim family’s disappearance in the Oregon wilderness (James, Kati, and their two daughters) over Thanksgiving weekend. Slowly, the questions moved from “Where are they?” to “Where is James?” to “What happened?” to a simple statement, “Awful,” when the story of James Kim’s life came to an end.
The story stuck in many of our minds – a series of unfortunate events, and the most horrific of consequences. Getting lost with your family in the wilderness. Taking a wrong turn. Bad weather. No cellphone reception. The list goes on. The thought of waiting in one’s car with children for rescue is horrifying. The thought of realizing rescue would not come in time, even more horrifying. The thought of hiking through the snowy forest to save one’s family, and dying, not knowing your wife and children had been saved, is heartbreaking.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the Kim family’s story. Despite all the badmouthing and criticism of their “mistakes,” it could have happened to most of us. It all started with a wrong turn, something we can all identify with.
James Kim’s father, Spencer Kim, wrote a letter entitled “Lessons in My Son’s Death” to the Washington Post, asking for change. For starters: lock the gates to undrivable roads, figure out new processes and training for search and rescue missions, and allow easier access to cellphone records (he stated that there were critical delays in accessing these records which led rescuers to a tighter search radius (previous to that, they had been searching nearly the entire state of Oregon). It is heartbreaking knowing the motivations for such a letter.
Who is this man? I myself have been wondering this for months now, as Spencer Kim has stayed out of the media for most of the ordeal. But it’s clear that this man is unique and special.
Emil Guillermo at Asianweek writes about Spencer Kim, James Kim’s father this week. In the letter, we get to know Spencer Kim a little better, and I wish him much luck and healing.