Kim Ung-yong was born on March 8, 1962 in Seoul, South Korea. His father was a physics professor and his mother was a medical professor. By the time he was one year old, Kim had learned both the Korean alphabet and 1,000 Chinese characters by studying the Thousand Character Classic, a 6th-century Chinese poem. At three years old, he was able to solve calculus problems, and he also published a best-selling book of his essays in English and German, as well as his calligraphy and illustrations. [unreliable source?] By the age of five, Kim could speak Korean, English, French, German and Japanese. That year, he enrolled at Grant High School in Los Angeles after an article was published about him in Look magazine that caught the attention of the school. He also audited a physics class at Hanyang University.