Very few can replicate what Jonny Kim has achieved. 

Kim is a former Navy SEAL and a first-generation Korean-American who earned a Harvard medical degree. He then applied for astronaut candidacy and was selected by NASA. Once a Texas senator even joked that Kim’s accomplishments made him feel “horribly, horribly inadequate.”

Despite his massive accomplishments, he wasn’t always confident and had no direction in life. As a kid, he did not know what he wanted to be when he grew up, and during high school, it got worse as he was looking for direction. 


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The NASA astronaut told NBC 7 that he had little confidence in high school because of his Asian American roots, among many other things. 

I felt like I was in between worlds — my parents were South Korean immigrants. There were just many things that didn’t make me feel confident as a person. 

He was scared to talk to people and eat lunch with no friends. At 16 years old, he enlisted for U.S. Navy SEALS instead of going straight to college, much to his mother’s disappointment because 20 years ago, as an Asian American, Kim’s path was foreign. 

Nevertheless, Kim persevered and became an elite Navy SEAL team member. 

Jonny Kim’s Career

Kim served as a Special Operations Combat Medic, sniper, navigator, and point man spanning two deployments.


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He is also the recipient of a Silver and Bronze Star. In 2012, he continued his education, which had been halted after he enlisted in the Navy. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of San Diego. 

But his experience as a Navy SEAL effectuated his subsequent career. The former Navy SEAL has mentioned several times, in other published interviews, about his life-changing experience in the Navy. He shared that he felt helpless when he saw his comrades killed in action.

This aroused his desire to help heal others. He was determined to become a doctor, and in 2016, he graduated from Harvard Medical School. But that was still not enough for Kim. He became an astronaut, still compelled “to serve humanity.”

He applied for astronaut candidacy and was selected by NASA. In August 2017, he became the first Korean-American NASA astronaut.

Jonny Kim’s Wife and Kids


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Kim has achieved it all, but it would not have been possible without his wife, according to the astronaut.

He is married with three kids. In his feature for NextShark, Kim credited his wife for raising his kids and being there for the family while he dealt with a demanding schedule. 

I have an amazing partner. My wife is an amazing woman, and we have honest conversations about what parts we need help with and our expectations. It’s not easy at all. 

Kim also added that despite running into obstacles all the time, they did their best to have an honest, open conversation about it and tried to get through it together as a team. He shared that it was not much different from his work. 

As far as his kids following in his footsteps is concerned, he and his wife want them to be happy and passionate about whatever they do.