South Korea's first astronaut is going to be Yi So-yeon (also written Lee Soyeon), a biomechanical engineer. Yi will be just shy of 30 when she rides the
Space Shuttle Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station, replacing Sally Ride as the youngest astronaut to date. In fact, according to Wikipedia, her doctorate was conferred less than two weeks ago, on February 2.
Michael Hurt of SeoulGlow informally interviewed Yi in 2006 and early 2007, where she talks about what inspired her to become an astronaut:
First, when I watched sci-fi movies as a kid, there were always cool astronauts flying the spaceship. There was always one female scientist. Always exactly one female scientist. And that female scientist is always smart, and if something happens, she always explains everything well, and then... if all the men start fighting, she calms them all down ... There's always one like that. She's always thin, pretty, and always blonde. [. . .] Yeah, so watching these cool women back then, I thought, "Ahh! I want to be a cool scientist like that!" [English translation from the subtitles]Hurt also asked her if she had any specific "hopes" as a woman:
From working at school as an engineer, there are some physically trying things, that men are better at doing . . . Working through things precisely, exactly, putting things together . . . women are good at things like that. Because there are things like that, I want to [show?] a side of women, that we also have great abilities. "Ahh, even though she's a woman, without whining or complaining, she can do a really good job!" That's my biggest goal . . . to show that to people. [English translation from the subtitles]
Yi replaced male roboticist Ko San, who was removed after he "took reading material out of the center without permission in September and lent a book without authorization in February." Wow, strict.
Tags: Yi So-yeon, astronauts, International Space Station