Robbery Victim Who Preached ‘Peace and Harmony’ Dies, and Alleged Assailant Now Faces Murder Charge

Young Kun Kim, the 87-year-old professor who was assaulted while getting money from a Citibank ATM last weekend, has died, according to the NYPD.

Police have arrested Upper West Sider Matthew Lee for the crime. He had been charged by police with assault and robbery. After Kim’s death, the district attorney has changed the charges to murder and robbery. “The defendant identified himself as the individual who attacked Mr. Kim in stills taken from the above-described video,” the criminal complaint says. Lee is being held without bail and his next court date is May 22. His Legal Aid lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Kim was a professor at Lehman College in the Bronx starting in 1967, and just retired this past year. Associate Dean Christopher Malone called him “the most peaceful person on the planet.” His family wrote the following statement about his death:

“Our beloved Young Kun Kim has passed away. Please take comfort in the fact that he was surrounded by loved ones and family, and that he was not in pain, even in his last moments.

The family would like to express that my father’s life-long wish has been to bring peace and harmony to the world, on the global and local scale. My father held no hatred in his heart for anyone, and always reminded people of the importance of human rights, human dignity, and respect for each other.

We would like to mention that my father had written an Advance Directive, detailing his wishes for end-of-life care. This document helped us immensely while we were making the most difficult decisions of our lives.

We would also like to thank the New York City Police Department 24th Precinct, the Manhattan North Homicide Squad, and the entire staff of The Mount Sinai Hospital for their professionalism and support.

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to your favorite charities or community centers. We did not want to name specific organizations – there are so many good causes, big and small, and so many in need.

There is no way to make sense of this attack, but perhaps it can serve as an urgent reminder that we need more love and compassion in this world.


NEWS | 44 comments | permalink
    1. Scott says:

      This is precisely the kind of crime that’s much more likely to happen in the big city. The proximity of ATMs to supportive housing which contains people like Mr. Lee makes it so. They can walk to ATMs and stalk their prey anytime they want. This is why I do all my ATM-ing in the suburbs.

      • duh says:

        You’re just trolling now, right?

        • Scott says:

          Nope. Are you too thick to see the opportunity afforded by geography for criminals in NYC? I can tell you the cops aren’t.

      • shg says:

        Wow. For what it is worth, using an ATM anywhere increases your vulnerability. Hope you don’t confirm this the hard way . . . or wait . . . maybe I do. No, I don’t want to be that . . . so hope you don’t.

        • dannyboy says:

          The ATM vestibule where this occurred is now, in response to the murder occuring there, only minimally guarded. The guard likes talking on his cell while, at the same time, chatting with a non-customer who stopped in to use the writing counter as his breakfast counter.

          I’m calling Citi. Then maybe a Detective at the 24 who’s very responsive.

    2. ZoomZoom says:

      If the alleged killer is found guilty – which he should be –
      Get going with the death sentence that’s been on the books in New York state for 20+ years, but has never been implemented.
      A scum such as the alleged murderer should not rot in jail, but rather, should meet his maker – Lucifer, in hell.

      • JOEY says:

        Unfortunately NYS abolished the death penalty in 2007.

      • Kathleen says:

        What a lovely contribution to Young Jun Kim’s lifelong mission to bring more love and compassion into the world.

    3. AC says:

      Never met this individual, but from speaking to people who attended to him (he was a patron of various businesses here in the UWS) – he was a stand-up, classy guy. My thoughts and prayers are with his family & friends.

    4. dannyboy says:

      Mr Kim has made a better world. Thank you.

    5. EricaC says:

      That is terrible. I am so sorry that this befell this gentlemen and all the people who loved him.

    6. Jimbo says:

      Very sad news. Condolences to his family.

    7. Jen says:

      The end of a beautiful life. So sad, so unfair. My condolences to the family.

    8. Next Victim? says:


    9. Zulu says:

      This is heartbreaking.

    10. Jean says:

      Well, it seems the thug who beat and murdered him did not adhere to this kind professor’s ways.

    11. Jonathan Segal says:

      The above tweet contains a good credo to live by.

    12. Pedestrian says:

      Let us hope that the murder of Mr. Kim will not be the story our our country writ in miniature.

      I grieve for him though I did not know him. I burn with rage at the man who took his life.

    13. Sally F says:

      Head-shakingly sad. Beautiful statement from the family.

    14. Cintra says:

      My deep condolences to his family and friends. My donations will be to charities in his name. Thanks to the public who help the police take one lowlife off the streets.

    15. Ruth says:

      What a disgrace that such a distinguished and good person can be brutalized and murdered by some utter piece of trash like this. We need better police activity and monitoring of the streets on UWS. We pay so much in city taxes, for what, to be murdered in broad daylight in a supposedly decent neighborhood.

    16. MDG says:

      May Young Kun Kim’s sweet spirit continue to bring peace and harmony to the world. May we all continue to learn, grow and care for each other. Peace.

    17. Rob G. says:

      It’s unfair that an aged professor who dedicated his life to helping others meets a violent end like this. We are all at risk as long as we Upper West Siders keep allowing the city to jam the area with the housing for the mentally ill, drug addicts, and homeless shelters. The result for us is an “anything goes” atmosphere, where an opportunistic predator, suffering from bad spirits or not, feels he can behave with impunity. Other neighborhoods would not allow this and we shouldn’t either.

      • Cato says:

        – “We are all at risk as long as we Upper West Siders keep allowing the city to jam the area with the housing for the mentally ill, drug addicts, and homeless shelters.”

        I haven’t seen anything saying that the man arrested for this crime is mentally ill, a drug addict, or a homeless-shelter resident. Have I missed a reported fact, or are you assuming that, because he is an “Upper West Sider” (as reported above) and committed a hideous assault, that he therefore must be one of those?

      • ZoomZoom says:

        Murder 1.
        Death penalty.
        It’s about time.

      • Sarah says:

        ” Other neighborhoods would not allow this and we shouldn’t either.”

        Everyone knows what this is code for now: “whyyyyyy are there still so many scary black and Hispanic people on the UWS? Aren’t we rich enough now to have to see or deal with these people?”

        We see you, buddy.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          hurrah, Sarah. I wish there was a “like” button.

        • Rob G. says:

          Sorry Sarah but you don’t see anything except an opportunity to race-bait. Basically you are saying that we can’t talk about problems in the neighborhood without you focusing only on Black and Hispanic people. Are you blind to the White opioid addicts that make our sidewalks their home?

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            i love the way Rob and others who agree with him seem to be able to look at a person and tell immediately whether they are an opioid addict.

            maybe he can let us in on his secret.

            by the way, Sarah wasn’t “race baiting.” she was simply expressing an opinion about what is underlying some of the comments on these threads. it was an observation i agreed with.

            • Rob G. says:

              No secrets Bruce E Bernstein but perhaps you are unaware that there is an opioid epidemic here in the USA. Perhaps you are also unaware that suburban white kids are flooding into cities like NY in search of cheap, readily available heroin and meth. So I deduced that the coinciding trend of white, sickly-looking 20-somethings sleeping on our sidewalks and begging change probably mean that they are opioid addicts.

              I could be wrong, course. They could just be millennial Google employees supplementing their income.

              And to be clear, Sarah was race-baiting. You have a right to agree with her of course but that makes you a race-baiter too.

              My suggestion is that we all tone down the rhetoric, honor the memory of Professor Kim, and allow others on this thread to mourn this tragedy without passing judgement on how they do that.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              i love the way Rob G. smoothly transitions from calling Sarah and myself “race baiters” to lecturing everyone to “tone down the rhetoric.” Nice.

              I haven’t noticed a “trend of white, sickly-looking 20-somethings sleeping on our sidewalks and begging change” around 96th and Bway. i don’t think i’ve seen any! Maybe a few down closer to 72nd street… I’m not down there much.

              People can mourn any way they like, but i don’t think using this to push for the death penalty captures Dr. Kim’s spirit. It seems out of place.

            • Rob G. says:

              I called Sarah a race-baiter because that’s what she is. In her unsolicited reply to my original post, she made a false and inflammatory accusation that my comment was directed at “scary black and Hispanic people.” I then called you a race-baiter because you very clearly stated that you agreed with her.

              Why don’t you read the whole thread again and try to follow it a little better this time?

              It’s funny how indignant some people get when the rotten food they throw gets thrown back in their face.

    18. Jane says:

      We are all Berniece’s by the violent death of such a peace building man. Blessing to his family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

    19. Linda says:

      “we are here not for satisfaction but for growth as intelligent and caring human beings.” If we all lived by this motto the world would be a better place. My condolences to his family.

    20. Paul RL says:

      I noticed Professor Kim a few times at the Metro Diner, where he apparently was a regular. Not knowing who he was, I remember thinking, “Boy, what a peaceful demeanor that old man has about him,” and silently wishing him a good day. This senseless murder truly hurts us all.

      • westside rad says:

        I would say exactly the same thing. I saw him there or walking there often. Gentle and frail. I used to wonder how he even got around and if he needed help till I saw him doing fine in the diner and talking with the guys who work there.

        The robber just had to ask for the money instead of hitting him. The saddest thing is most of the comments on this page venting anger won’t learn from Dr Kim’s example. His note is right there for all to see. Read it again.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          Westside Rad,

          thank you!! “like”

        • Will Standmyground says:

          People ARE learning from the example of his violent death.

          I am heartened to see people supporting capital punishment, and standing up to the race baiters like Sarah who ignore disproportionate crime rates. We see you, and we see right through you.

    21. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      the statement published by the CUNY Grad Center on the death of Professor Kim:

      “NEW YORK, May 17, 2018 – We at The Graduate Center are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Professor Young Kun Kim, a distinguished member of our faculty who succumbed to fatal injuries as a consequence of a senseless assault that took place earlier this week. Our thoughts are with Professor Kim’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.

      Professor Kim was a member of the doctoral faculty in political science for 45 years before retiring early this year. His research focused on comparative political thought, and he specialized in the geopolitics of the Korean peninsula and China. He was also a stalwart member of the Graduate Council and was honored by President Chase Robinson during his last meeting on December 13, 2017, who quoted Professor Kim: “My guiding principle in the Graduate Council has been to strive for the highest excellence, which we are committed to achieving in the classrooms and laboratories.” Professor Kim described his “joy and pride” at carrying out this responsibility.

      We are grateful for his dedicated teaching of scores of students and his generous service in support of the mission of The Graduate Center. We are shocked by the circumstances surrounding his untimely death, and we extend our hearts to his family and to all those who loved and cared for Professor Kim and who are now in grief.”

      • Ellen Jacobs says:

        Thank you for posting the CUNY Grad Centre commemoration of Prof. Kim. As a doctoral student at the CUNY GC I recall Prof. Kim as one of a distinguished group of Profs. in Pol Science and the humanities. So sad to read of his death and by a violent assault in the city he enriched with his scholarship and teaching. Sincere condolences to his family, and to all those who mourn his loss.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          you’re welcome, Ellen.

          I am an MA student in Poli Sci at the Grad Center. this was Dr. Kim’s department, though i never had the good fortune to meet him nor take a course with him.

    22. Go20014 says:

      My deepest condolences to Mr. Kim’s family and friends. The world needs more people like him.

    23. Sarah says:

      Rest in peace, sir. I do hope that commenters can resist the urge to display an ugly spirit of violence and retribution which would run counter to his own beliefs.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        nicely said, Sarah, and said with the kindness that is in the spirit of Dr. Kim. sp