CORRECTION: The story below, which posted Sunday about the Asiana Airlines plane crash incorrectly reported that 17-year-old Kim Jeong Han of Korea had survived the crash, based on an interview with Kim. Officials from the Korean Consulate in San Francisco said Monday that Kim had been in the United States since March and was not a passenger on Asiana Flight 214. Kim's passport was either lost or stolen, an official said, forcing him to seek help Sunday afternoon at the consulate offices, where he was interviewed by this newspaper. ORIGINAL STORY: Jeong Han Kim's first time on an airplane will be memorable -- but not for any of the reasons he hoped.
The 17-year-old boarded Asiana Airlines Flight 214 alone for his first air travel experience and first trip to the United States.
Kim, from Seoul, plans to study at a Bay Area high school for two months to improve his English and prepare for college -- possibly a university in the United States.
But his excitement and anticipation turned to terror when the plane crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport Saturday morning.
Kim came out of the crash relatively unscathed, besides a broken toe on his left foot. He was sitting towards the front of the plane, he said, which suffered less damage than the rear during Saturday's crash that killed two 16-year-old girls and injured dozens more.
But as he stood alone outside the Korean Consulate in San Francisco late Sunday afternoon, waiting to go inside and call his parents back in Seoul, Kim appeared shaken to the core.
"I am so scared, " he told this newspaper.
He hadn't spoken with his family since the crash. He said the consulate would arrange for him to stay in a hotel, but he didn't know where. Arrangements had been make for him to stay with a host family for his study program, but he didn't know where they live or how to reach them. He knows no one else here.
Hours after surviving the crash, the teenager was grappling with all the challenges presented by a foreign country and language.
"I just know (the United States) from TV and the Internet," he said.
When he boarded the plan for his trip to the Bay Area, he had carried with him only a plastic bag of souvenirs for his host family -- trinkets he bought at the airport, including a San Francisco travel coffee mug -- and a cell phone. He lost everything in the crash, including his shoes, which he said were too damaged to wear.
But someone gave him a new pair of bright white sneakers, a little cash and had arranged for a cab ride from him from the airport to the consulate so he could figure out what to do next.
Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413.