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One Of NASA's New Astronaut Candidates Is An L.A. Native

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Dr. Jonny Kim. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
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On Wednesday, NASA handpicked 12 new astronauts from its largest ever pool of applicants. The sky is quite literally the limit for the seven men and five women (selected from the more than 18,300 applicants) who will join 44 astronauts already in the NASA corps.

One of those new astronauts is Los Angeles native Dr. Jonny Kim. Kim is a former Navy SEAL with a medical doctorate from Harvard University. Kim told LAist that he was raised in West L.A. "between Koreatown and Santa Monica" and moved to Boston at 18. His mother still lives in Los Angeles.

We used our time on the phone with the comically impressive soon-to-be space traveler to ask him the important questions, like what his favorite restaurant in L.A. was when he was growing up. "There was this spot in Koreatown that was a Chinese restaurant with a Korean cultural spin to it. It was called Shin Peking," Kim told LAist. "But I don't think it's there anymore." A Korean-inspired Chinese restaurant in Koreatown that no longer exists—could there be anything more L.A.? According to the L.A. Times, the former Shin Peking has reopened in its former location on Olympic Boulevard as Shin Beijng, and the "popular after-church family restaurant" still serves Korean-Chinese cuisine.

Kim joined the Navy after graduating from Santa Monica High School in 2002. On a fun side note, that puts Kim in the Samohi graduating class a year above dead-eyed Trump advisor Stephen Miller. According to Kim, the two men did not know each other in high school. "Maybe we had crossed paths, but it doesn't ring a bell," Kim said. "He graduated in 2003? No, I don't know him."

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Kim was first drawn to space early in medical school. "I had not really given much thought to NASA until then, mostly because it just never came across my mind, but after hearing about the mission and learning about this very inspiring mission to advance the space frontier and explore the unknown, all the while inspiring our young children to dream about a better tomorrow—these were all things that I felt could leave a positive, lasting contribution to humanity," he recalled. "That's how I became inspired and motivated to become an astronaut."

And finally, the most important question: is the newly minted astronaut candidate excited to see L.A. from space? "I am," he said. "And I'm excited to see California and really the world. It's going to be amazing—we think of cities and states as these boundaries, but up from space, I don't think those kind of boundaries exist. Just seeing the world as a single entity is going to be very amazing."