Lee was born on August 11, 1964 in Seoul, South Korea. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lived a "typical middle-class childhood". Though given a Korean name at birth, he chose the name Jim when he became a naturalized U. S. citizen at age 12. Lee attended River Bend Elementary School in Chesterfield and later St. Louis Country Day School, where he drew posters for school plays. Having had to learn English when he first came to the U. S. presented the young Lee with the sense of being an outsider, as did the "preppy, upper-class" atmosphere of Country Day. As a result, on the rare occasions that his parents bought him comics, Lee's favorite characters were the X-Men, because they were outsiders themselves. Lee says that he benefited as an artist by connecting with characters that were themselves disenfranchised, like Spider-Man, or who were born of such backgrounds, such as Superman, who was created by two Jewish men from Cleveland to lift their spirits during the Depression. His classmates predicted in his senior yearbook that he would found his own comic book company. Despite this, Lee was resigned to following his father's career in medicine, attending Princeton University to study psychology, with the intention of becoming a medical doctor.