Jonny Kim is the first Korean-American astronaut

Two of the candidates were from the Canadian Space Agency, but the other 11, including Kim, were selected from an initial group of more than 18,000 applicants, NASA said.

Kim’s family background is related to many children of immigrants.

“My parents were South Korean immigrants who arrived in the United States in the early 1980s in the hope of a better life for their children,” Kim said in a 2017 interview with NASA.
After graduating from high school in Los Angeles, Kim joined the Navy as a Seaman recruit, which eventually led him to obtain the elite military status of a Navy SEAL. He served as a combat doctor, sniper and navigator in more than 100 combat operations in two deployments in the Middle East, NASA said.

Kim earned her math degree from the University of San Diego and a doctorate in medicine from Harvard Medical School. At the time of his selection of an astronaut candidate in June 2017, Kim was a resident physician at a Massachusetts hospital, according to NASA.

Kim wanted to become an astronaut because “he fundamentally believed in NASA’s mission to advance our space frontier while developing innovation and new technologies that would benefit all of humanity,” he said in the 2017 interview.

But for those who think these achievements were easy, think again, Kim said.

If he had to give advice to his younger self, he said it would be this: “All things worthwhile are very difficult to obtain.”


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