Sometime between her third and fourth year of her PhD program, Yi’s research ground to a halt. Her experiments were failing, she wasn’t acquiring good data, and even her friends were asking whether or not she could, or should, continue. Amidst the confusion about her future in science, Yi heard that the Korean government was looking for astronaut candidates. “I’m an easily distracted person, so I turn my attention to whatever is new and exciting,” Yi says. Being an astronaut seemed like a new, shiny distraction from her research, so Yi immediately applied (along with over 30,000 other hopefuls). After a battery of medical and psychological tests, she made it to the last two finalists, primarily because of the physical strength that precludes her from being seen as a “traditional” Korean beauty: thin body, pale skin, passive demeanor. So, after struggling through grad school and paying bills with her part-time gig as a wedding singer, Yi was ready to take on a new challenge: becoming Korea’s first (woman) astronaut.
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Host: Sean Mobley
Interviewer: Geoff Nunn
Producer: Keny Dutton
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