Kim was born in 1975 in Goyang, a suburb of Seoul. He was inspired to begin drawing after viewing an illustration from the Japanese comic Dr. Slump, drawn by Akira Toriyama. In school, his teachers often chastised him for not paying attention, as he was busy doodling in his notes.
Kim Jung Gi (legally Kim Jung Ki; Korean: 김정기, hanja: 金政基; 7 February 1975 – 3 October 2022) was a South Korean illustrator, cartoonist, and manhwa artist. He was famous for his large, highly detailed illustrations, ink and brush artistic style, and skill at drawing from memory. Kim could complete his drawings entirely from his imagination, without the use of sketches, visual references, or other preparatory aids, and often used exotic forms of perspective, such as curvilinear perspective.
At the age of 19, he pursued a fine arts education at Dong-Eui University, located in Busan; until he studied here he had not learned the mathematical principles of perspective, something he had previously done by intuition. Kim also served in the Republic of Korea Army; in some interviews, he stated that his time in the army allowed him to build a strong visual memory of a wide array of weapons, vehicles and army situations which he was able to recall in his illustrations.
In 2001, he chose "Kim Jung Gi" as his "English name" over his legal name, Kim Jung Ki, because "Gi" was "more visually appealing."
Kim frequently collaborated with other writers and illustrators. His first collaboration was with writer Seung-Jin Park, for whom he illustrated Tiger the Long Tail. Kim also collaborated more than once with Belgian comics artist Jean-David Morvan: in 2014 he provided the illustrations for Morvan's SpyGames comics, and in 2016 did the same for McCurry, NYC, 9/11. Besides these collaborations, Kim also provided illustrations for many other properties, including variant covers for Civil War II and 10th-anniversary illustrations for League of Legends. In 2017, Kim published Katsuya Terada + Kim Jung Gi Illustrations Collection, a collaboration between himself and one of his own favorite artists. He also claimed to have been working on a project with Katsuhiro Otomo.
Kim drew in a variety of sizes, but he was especially well known for his large drawings. He drew these pictures directly on paper without the use of sketching or other preparation, improvising them as he went. From 2014, he also publicly exhibited his process at special events, where he would draw over a large white canvas. In 2015, he made an attempt to hold the Guinness world record for the "longest drawing by an individual."
Kim died in Paris of a heart attack on 3 October 2022, after experiencing chest pains.