Having ‘paid back’ through medical services, Kim to be Parade G-Marshal

All road closings, detours detailed for July 4 events

North Korea native Dr. Tom Kim, who successfully escaped his home country as a child then spent his adult life caring for those in need, will serve as grand marshal for 32nd Annual Farragut Independence Day Parade.

The parade will kick off at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, July 4, beginning on Kingston Pike at Lendon Welch Way and concluding at Boring Road. Town officials expect almost 100 parade entries.

Kim was only 6 when he escaped North Korea with his family, which included his father, who at the time was the personal physician to former leader Il Sung Kim. The family ultimately ended up in the United States, and Kim, who also became a doctor, decided to give back and minister in the country which he believes gave him so many opportunities.

In addition to opening his own private primary care and hematology/oncology practice in Knoxville in 1981, Kim began treating patients who had no health insurance free of charge. He ultimately opened the Free Medical Clinic of America in South Knoxville, and also began operating free clinics in Scott, Anderson, and Morgan counties until earlier this year.

To date, Free Medical Clinic of America, which Kim said is the only one of its kind in the nation, has treated more than 20,000 patients — the only requirements were they be employed and legal citizens.

Now 75, Kim, who lives with his wife in the Rocky Hill community, said in a recent interview he plans to retire from the clinic at the end of the year.

Kim also said he’s looking for someone to take over the clinic.

Farragut Parks & Athletics Council member Debbie Pinchok, who nominated Kim to serve as this year’s grand marshal, said she had met him many years ago when she was working at the former Baptist Hospital in downtown Knoxville.

“We saw a lot of Dr. Kim’s patients in the emergency room, and when he came to see them, you could tell what a kind, compassionate, caring man he was,” she said, noting he also helped fundraise for the American Korean War Memorial.

“He has dedicated his life to giving back, for what he was blessed by,” Pinchok said. “He is just a very special man.”

Parade traffic alerts

Due to the parade, Kingston Pike will be closed from Concord Road to Boring Road from 8:30 a.m. to approximately noon. The following are the parade detours as issued by Town officials:

• North side; Campbell Station Road to Grigsby Chapel Road to Smith Road to Kingston Pike (going west) or Campbell Station Road to Parkside Drive to Lovell Road (going east);

• South side; Concord Road to Turkey Creek Road to Virtue Road to Kingston Pike (going west), or Concord Road to Kingston Pike (going east);

• South Campbell Station Road from Kingston Pike to Brooklawn Boulevard and Municipal Center Drive will be closed from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. for 4th Annual Farragut Freedom Run (read more run event details later in this story);

The portion of Kingston Pike from Concord Road/West End Avenue to Campbell Station Road will be reopened approximately 15 minutes after the final parade participant has passed through the Campbell Station Road/Kingston Pike intersection. The parade should be completed between 11:30 a.m. and noon;

• Kingston Pike will be fully reopened once all participants are safely off the road. 

For more information about the parade, call Farragut’s Park & Recreation Department at 865-966-7057 or go to www.visitfarragut.org/events

Freedom Run details

Fleet Feet Knoxville Running Club is preparing to present its Freedom Run, featuring a 1- and 2-mile race, beginning at 9 a.m. prior to the parade.

Both 1- and 2-mile course will start at 103 Campbell Station Road, continue down Kingston Pike and finish in the Ingles parking lot, running in front of all those waiting for the parade to begin.

South Campbell Station Road from Kingston Pike to Brooklawn Boulevard and Municipal Center Drive will be closed from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. for the run.

As in previous years, the Freedom Run will support local charity Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.

Complete details and online registration are available at fleetfeetknoxville.com/races/farragut-freedom-run/.