Jonny Kim

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Jonny Kim
An Asian man in a blue flight suit is sitting in front of US & NASA flags; he is facing the camera and smiling.
Kim in August 2017
Jonathan Yong Kim

(1984-02-05) February 5, 1984 (age 40)
Space career
NASA Astronaut
SelectionNASA Astronaut Group 22
Military career
BranchUnited States Navy
RankLieutenant commander
ConflictsIraq War
AwardsSilver Star

Jonathan Yong Kim (born 5 February 1984), is an American U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, former SEAL, Navy flight surgeon, naval aviator, physician, and NASA astronaut.

Born and raised in California, Kim enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the early 2000s before earning a Silver Star and his commission. While a U.S. sailor, Kim also received his Bachelor of Arts in mathematics with distinction, his Doctor of Medicine, and an acceptance to NASA Astronaut Group 22 in 2017. He completed his astronaut training in 2020 and was awaiting a flight assignment with the Artemis program as of December 2020.

Personal life and education[edit]

Jonathan Yong Kim was born on 5 February 1984 in Los Angeles, California.[1] His parents emigrated from South Korea to the United States in the early 1980s,[2] and his father had scarcely completed a high-school education. The family opened a liquor store in South Los Angeles, and his mother worked as a substitute elementary school teacher while raising Kim and his younger brother.[3] In a 2018 interview with Annals of Emergency Medicine, Kim described himself as "the epitome of that quiet kid who just lacked complete self-confidence."[4] In 2020, The Chosun Ilbo reported that the adolescent Kim had been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father; in February 2002, after threatening his family with a gun, Kim's father was shot to death in his attic by police.[5]

At Santa Monica High School,[6] Kim received high grades in his classes, including several Advanced Placements, while participating in swimming and water polo;[3] he graduated in 2002. Kim received a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in mathematics from the University of San Diego in 2012, and a Doctor of Medicine from Harvard Medical School in 2016. Kim was a Pat Tillman Foundation "Tillman Scholar" selectee. In 2017, Kim completed his medical internship in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital.[6]

As of January 2020, Kim was married[7] with three children.[8]


U.S. Navy[edit]

Kim learned about and decided to become a Navy SEAL at age 16, investing his remaining high-school years physically conditioning himself for the rigors of Special Warfare training. Of this decision, Kim said, "Going into the Navy was the best decision I ever made in my life because it completely transformed that scared boy who didn't have any dreams to someone who started to believe in himself."[4]

After enlisting with the United States Navy in 2002 as a seaman recruit, Kim graduated BUD/S class 247 and was assigned to SEAL Team 3 with the rating Special Warfare Operator. He deployed twice to the Middle East and participated in over 100 combat missions as a combat medic, sniper, navigator, and point man.[6] During his tenure with the SEALs, Kim served with PO2s Marc Alan Lee and Michael A. Monsoor.[7] In 2009,[6] Kim was accepted to the STA-21 commissioning program;[9] when he graduated from the University of San Diego in 2012 and left the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, Kim entered the Medical Corps.[6]

On 6 June 2022, Kim completed his first solo flight in a Beechcraft T-6 Texan II at the Naval Air Training Command, part of a common training regimen for U.S. Navy – NASA astronauts who lacked previous military pilot experience.[9] After further training on the Northrop T-38 Talon and TH-57 helicopter, Kim formally completed his flight training in March 2023 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, receiving the rare dual-designation as both a Navy flight surgeon and naval aviator.[10]

Kim is a recipient of a Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal (with Combat "V"), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with Combat "V"), and Combat Action Ribbon.[7] According to Jocko Willink, Kim's Silver Star was awarded for rescuing multiple wounded Iraqi soldiers in the face of enemy fire.[11] As of March 2022, Kim was still described as a SEAL with the rank of lieutenant commander.[6]


Astronaut Group 22 with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (2018). Kim is visible in the upper left corner.

While studying at Harvard Medical School, Kim met and was inspired by astronaut–physician Scott E. Parazynski to apply for Astronaut Candidacy.[4] On June 7, 2017,[12] Kim was one of twelve candidates chosen from a pool of over 18,300 applicants to join NASA Astronaut Group 22.[13] He reported for duty on 21 August 2017,[4] and graduated from training on 10 January 2020.[6]

According to NASA, Kim will work in the Astronaut Office while awaiting a flight assignment.[6] On 9 December 2020, NASA formally announced that Kim would join 17 other astronauts in training for a 2024 Moon landing.[14]


  1. ^ "Jonathan Yong Kim". Military Times. Archived from the original on 5 October 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  2. ^ Kim, Jonny (22 August 2017). Jonny Kim/NASA 2017 Astronaut Candidate. Johnson Space Center. Archived from the original on 17 March 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b Choi, David (17 January 2020). "How an insecure teenager became a NASA-trained Navy SEAL, and convinced his Korean-American mom to allow him to join the military". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 19 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Faust, Jeremy S. (March 2018). Milling Jr, Truman J. (ed.). "Annals Q&A With Dr. Jonny Kim". Annals of Emergency Medicine. 71 (3). American College of Emergency Physicians: A13–A16. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2018.01.034. ISSN 0196-0644. LCCN 80643758. OCLC 5729547.
  5. ^ Cho, Eui-jun (10 August 2020). '가정폭력 아버지, 경찰에 피살' 韓人 첫 NASA 우주인의 고백 ['Father of Domestic Violence, Police Killed' Confession of First Korean NASA Astronaut]. The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020. This January, Johnny Kim became an astronaut on NASA's Mars expedition. Confessions of a Childhood Abused by His Father
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Tonnessen, Heather, ed. (March 2022). "Astronaut Jonny Kim". NASA. Archived from the original on 6 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Robson, Seth (15 January 2020). "Navy SEAL with Harvard medical degree becomes NASA astronaut". Stars and Stripes. Archived from the original on 16 January 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  8. ^ Choi, David (18 January 2020). "This Harvard-educated, NASA-qualified, Navy SEAL gives his kids this simple advice every day". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 17 January 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  9. ^ a b Altman, Howard (9 June 2022). "SEAL-Doctor-Astronaut Jonny Kim Is Adding Pilot To His Crazy Resume". The War Zone. Archived from the original on 15 July 2022. Retrieved 17 July 2022. The 'wouldn't believe it if it weren't true' list of accomplishments of Astronaut Jonny Kim keeps growing. Now he's becoming a pilot.
  10. ^ "NASA Astronaut and former SEAL completes Navy Flight Training". Corpus Christi, Texas: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. 17 April 2023. Archived from the original on 18 April 2023. Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  11. ^ Powell, Alvin (21 July 2017). "SEAL-tested, NASA-approved". Harvard Gazette. Archived from the original on 1 March 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019. Harvard Medical School grad to depart residency for astronaut training
  12. ^ Harwood, William (7 June 2017). "NASA introduces 12 new astronauts". CBS News. Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  13. ^ Robbins, Gary (9 December 2020). "NASA picks 4 San Diego university graduates to train for missions to the moon". The San Diego Union-Tribune. ISSN 1063-102X. Archived from the original on 14 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.

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