South Korea’s 1st Astronaut Yi So Yeon Participates in U.S. Space Program

kpride, June 24, 2015, 8:19 a.m.

Korea's first astronaut Yi So-yeon is taking part in a civilian space education program in the U.S. The Korean government spent W26 billion on her training, but Yi stirred up controversy when she took a leave of absence from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute in 2012 to pursue an MBA degree in the U.S. and settled there after marrying an optometrist (US$1=W1,105). 

According to the International Space University in France, Yi took part in the 2015 Space Studies Program in Ohio by joining a panel of former astronauts. ISU is one of the world's leading educational organizations and the program is a nine-week course designed to nurture space experts. The ISU features Yi on its website publicizing the program and giving interviews to the local press. 

Yi was a speaker at an event entitled "ask an astronaut" last week. Other speakers included Harrison Jack Schmitt, who traveled to space on the Apollo 17, Bob Thirsk, a Canadian who has flown aboard the space shuttle Colombia and Italian Paolo Nespoli, who traveled into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery. 

Yi received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley and settled in Tacoma, Washington two years ago. She apparently volunteered once a week to talk to visitors at the Museum of Flight in Seattle about her experience in space.

In an interview in 2014 after tendering her resignation at KARI, Yi said becoming an astronaut was never her goal in life. She was a last-minute substitute in space for Korea's first choice, who had been caught stealing industrial secrets. 


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