Kim Wanki was born in Shinan in South Cholla Province and entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1933. He participated in the "Twelve Artists, Room No. 9" exhibition in Tokyo in 1936 and he had a one-person exhibition at Amagi Gallery in Tokyo in 1937. In 1940 he had a one-person exhibition at Jung Ja Ok Gallery in Seoul. He was a lecturer at Seoul University from 1946 to 1948 and a professor at Hong Ik University from 1953 to 1955 and 1959 to 1962. In 1956 he had a one-man show at Tonghwa Gallery in Seoul.
From 1956-1959 he lived in Paris and had three one-person exhibitions in 1957: at Galerie M. Benézit Gallery in Paris, at Galerie Muratore Gallery, and at Galerie Cheval de Verre in Brussels. In 1959 he returned to Seoul to have solo shows at Central Information Gallery, and at the Ban Do Gallery.
Travelling to New York in 1963 he had one-person exhibitions at the Asia House Gallery in 1964, and in 1966 at the Tasca Gallery. In 1968-69 he had one-person exhibitions at the Gotham Book Mart and in 1971-73 at the Poindexter Gallery in New York, as well as at Sin Se Keh Gallery in Seoul. In 1975 his paintings were exhibited in the "Memorial Exhibition 1960-74" at the Poindexter Gallery in New York. He had a one-person exhibition at the Barnwell Museum in Louisiana in 1974.
An exhibition of the artist's work entitled "Retrospective: 1934-74" was held at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul in 1975, and "Retrospective: 1964-70" took place at the Hyundai Gallery in Seoul in 1977. "Works, 1965-74" and "Works, 1967-71" were shown at the Terry Dintenfass Gallery in New York in 1978 and 1981. In 1982 a sketch book entitled "Une lumineuse traversée" was exhibited at the Poindexter Gallery in New York.