Sheila Miyoshi Jager: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Obama, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Husband, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Biography

(Youtube/LibraryOfCongress)

In his new book, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David J. Garrow delves into the former president’s past, and uncovers a relationship that may come as a shock to the American public. While researching the former president, Garrow came into contact with one of his ex-girlfriends, Sheila Miyoshi Jager, who lived with Obama and says she turned down two of his marriage proposals.

Read on to learn more about 53-year-old Sheila Miyoshi Jager:


1. Obama Proposed to Jager Long Before He Met Michelle, the Author Says

Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Obama, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Husband, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Biography

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama kiss as they prepare to greet President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania to the White House in Washington, DC January 20, 2017. (Getty)

According to Garrow, Obama met Yager in the mid-80s while doing community organizing in Chicago, and lived with her in his early 20s. In her interview with the Pulitzer prize-winning author, Jager says, “In the winter of ‘86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him.” Jager’s parents would not allow them to get married, however– they feared their daughter was too young, only 23 at the time.

Despite Jager’s parents’ opposition to the marriage, the couple did not immediately split up. They continued dating until Obama’s attention shifted to a run for presidency. Jager tells Garrow, “He became. . . so very ambitious, very suddenly… I remember very clearly when this transformation happened, and I remember very specifically that by 1987, about a year into our relationship, he already had his sights on becoming president.”

When Obama was leaving for Harvard Law School, Jager says he proposed to her once again and asked her to come with him to Cambridge, but she chose to follow through with her planned research trip to Seoul. Jager tells Garrow she believes Obama made the proposal “out of a sense of desperation over our eventual parting and not in any real faith in our future.”


2. Author David Garrow Claims Obama Dated Jager While Dating Michelle

Michelle and Barack met in the summer of 1989– that same year, they went on their first date. Michelle was assigned to mentor Barack at the law firm Sidley & Austin, where she had just completed her first year as an associate.

In his book, Garrow reports that Barack and Jager continued to see one another “irregularly throughout the 1990-91 academic year, notwithstanding the deepening of Barack’s relationship with Michelle Robinson.” The Independent writes, “… Obama met Michelle… they soon found themselves in a serious relationship… However, Jager was not completely out of the picture as she was soon to arrive at Harvard on a teaching fellowship.”

In her interviews for the book, Jager tells Garrow, “I always felt bad about it.”

After Barack and Michelle tied the knot, Jager’s relationship with the former president was limited to infrequent phone calls and letters.


3. She Teaches at Oberlin College

Jager is of Dutch and Japanese ancestry, and studied anthropology like Baracka’s mother, Ann Dunham. At Oberlin College, she is an associate professor and the program director of East Asian Studies.

She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1994, and has taught the following courses at Oberlin: Cold War in Asia (2008-2013), Korea: Past, Present, and Future (2008-2015), The Korean War (2009-2015), The Opening of Korea (2014-2016), The Politics of Memory (2010-2012).


4. She Is the Author of ‘Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea’

Jager is the author of a book called Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea, which looks at the operational history of the Korean War and the interaction between military and society at the time.

Asked by the Oberlin Review what inspired her to write the book, Jager said:

There are all these sort of changes in the way in which South Koreans have looked toward North Korea and looked toward the Korean War and I was interested in those changes. So I got this position at the U.S. Army War College and it was basically a policy position and they told me, ‘I want you to look at the Korea situation.’ So I thought, well, I needed to understand the relationship between North and South Korea from the very beginning if I’m going to understand really how South Korea became South Korea and North Korea became North Korea.

Jager’s other books include: “On the Uses of Cultural Knowledge”, “The Politics of Identity: History, Nationalism, and the Prospect for Peace in Post-Cold War East Asia“, and “Narratives of nation building in Korea.”


5. She Is Married to Historian Jiyul Kim

Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Obama, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Husband, Sheila Miyoshi Jager Biography

Former U.S. President Barack Obama visits with youth leaders at the University of Chicago to help promote community organizing on April 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The visit marks Obama’s first formal public appearance since leaving office. (Getty)

Jager is married to historian Jiyul Kim, who specializes in East Asia, Cold War, and US foreign policy. Kim received his BA in anthropology and biology from UPenn, and his MA in Asian studies from Harvard. In 2012, Kim began working as a visiting assistant professor at Oberlin (where Jager teaches), where he taught “History and the Formulation of US National Security Policy and Strategy”, “Theory and History of War”, and “War and Civilization.”

Kim served with the US Army for nearly 30 years, with assignments in US, Germany, Korea, and Japan. According to his biography on Oberlin’s website, he taught strategy, national security policy, and Asian Studies at the US Army War College for five years.

Today, Jager and Kim live in Ohio with their children.