Charles J Pedersen

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Charles John Pedersen (October 3, 1904 – October 26, 1989) was an American organic chemist best known for describing methods of synthesizing crown ethers during his entire 42-year career as a chemist for DuPont at DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware and at DuPont's Jackson Laboratory in Deepwater, New Jersey. Often associated with Reed McNeil Izatt, Pedersen also shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987 with Donald J. Cram and Jean-Marie Lehn. He is the only Nobel Prize laureate born in Korea other than Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung.

Born on October 3, 1904 in Busan, Korea, Charles J. Pedersen was the youngest of three children. According to his autobiographical account of his life found on the official website for the Nobel Prize, his father, Brede Pedersen, was a Norwegian marine engineer who immigrated to Korea in order to join the Korean customs service after leaving home due to family issues to become an engineer in the Far East. Later, he worked as a mechanical engineer at the Unsan County mines in present-day North Korea. His mother, Takino Yasui, immigrated from Japan to Korea with her family and established a successful line of work by trading soybeans and silkworms located close to the Unsan County mines, where the couple ultimately met. Although not much is mentioned about his elder brother, who died of a childhood disease before Pedersen was born, he had an older sister named Astrid, who was five years older than him. In Japan, he used the Japanese given name Yoshio (良男), which he spelled using the kanji for "good" and "man". According to Pedersen in a separate autobiographical account of his childhood, he had been born prior to the Russo-Japanese War and because his mother had still been grieving over the then-recent death of his older brother, he did not feel welcomed as a child.