Chloe Kim is representing Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The 17-year-old snowboarder won her very first gold medal in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Kim’s biggest fans are her parents: her mom, Boran Yun Kim, and her dad, Jong Jin Kim, both of whom emigrated from South Korea. Kim travels the world with her parents (more so with her dad than her mom), who have been a great support system to her over the years.
“I’m so used to America, used to the traffic in L.A., and I don’t really feel it click with the Korean culture. But obviously I have a Korean face, and I feel like that’s just — you know, I can’t walk around people like I’m, like, straight-up American. It’s like, I’m Korean American. My parents are from Korea,” Kim recently told the Washington Post.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Boran Yun Kim & Jong Jin Kim Are Both From South Korea & Met in Switzerland
Kim’s father, Jong Jin, moved to the United States with his wife (Chloe’s mom), Boran Yun, in 1982. The two had met in Switzerland years prior when they were both working for travel agencies. They settled down in Southern California and built a life together.
Jong Jin studied engineering (and got his degree), while Boran Yun cared for the couple’s three daughters.
Each year, Chloe travels to Korea to spend time with her family. She hangs out with her cousins and has gotten to experience the culture first hand.
“It’s cool. I feel like I have another life,” she told the Washington Post.
The Kims are overjoyed to watch their daughter compete in this year’s Winter Games, particularly because of the location.
“My parents are really excited about it, and it’s some crazy luck that my first Olympics are going to be in Korea where my parents are from. And a lot of my relatives over there have never really seen me compete before, so I think it’s going to be pretty cool for everyone. It’s really exciting, my whole family is really excited about it, so that gets me even more stoked,” Kim told People Magazine in the fall.
“I think my family [is] just so excited. My grandma is in Korea. I have two aunts and three cousins in Korea as well,” Chloe Kim told CNN.
2. Jong Jin Kim Taught Her How to Snowboard & Quit His Job as an Engineer to Travel the World With Her
Jong Jin Kim has been a driving force behind his daughter’s incredible talent. He taught her to snowboard when she was quite young.
“He actually dragged me to the mountain when I was 4 to bribe my mom to come snowboard with him, so it really wasn’t voluntary on my part. But I’m actually really glad he did that. And I’m really glad he just kept bringing me to the mountain,” Kim told USA Today Sports.
Jong Jin Kim worked as an engineer for several years, but he eventually decided to quit his job so that he could travel the world with his daughter on a full-time basis.
“Obviously, when I was 8, I had no idea what he was doing. It was, like, ‘Why is Dad home more?’ You know? But now that I think about it, you know, I feel like it was a really bold move, and I can’t believe my mom was okay with it,” Kim told the Washington Post.
He is currently in South Korea, and watched her win gold. He was holding a homemade sign in the crowd.
“It’s just great ’cause it’s kind of the American dream, American dream come true. It’s the land of opportunity. Why not?” Jong Jin Kim recently told USA Today Sports.
You can watch Kim talk about her childhood and her dad in the video below.
3. Her Mom Is Her Best Friend
When Kim isn’t snowboarding, she enjoys going to the mall, not unlike other kids her age. She is very close with her mom and the two often spend time together shopping.
“My mom and I are like best friends so we always go shopping together, we always take Reese to the park together, and I think just me living in the city, when I’m not on snow, just kind of helps a lot with my life and being normal,” Kim told People Magazine.
Boran Yun Kim’s Instagram is filled with pictures of her with her children.
“When I look, feel and do my personal best, it shows – it’s my personal 100! My mom is always helping me achieve my personal 100,” Chloe captioned a recent photo with her mom, promoting the skincare line Laneige.
And while Boran Yun may have needed some extra convincing to try snowboarding, she has hit the slopes with her daughter over the years. Check out the following photo from 2006 — Chloe was just 6 years old.
4. She Lived in Switzerland for 2 Years Because Her Dad Wanted Her to Learn French
When Kim was younger, her dad sent her to live in Switzerland with her extended family. Although you might think that Mr. Kim wanted her to finesse her snowboarding skills, he says that he sent her to live there so that she could learn how to speak French. She lived there for two years.
Whenever her dad would visit her, they’d go snowboarding together. Kim says that her dad never forced her to snowboard and that her parents never pushed her to do anything that she didn’t want to do. Instead, they supported her and watched her blossom into one of the most talented young snowboarders in the world.
“She made regular treks to the Alps. She would wake up at 4 a.m., take two trains to reach a halfpipe in France and continue her training,” reports the Washington Post.
Chloe moved back to the U.S. when she was 8 and she enrolled in a developmental program at Mammoth Mountain. Her parents home schooled her during the week and her dad would drive more than five hours to Mammoth so that his daughter could snowboard on the weekends.
5. Boran Yun Kim Made Headlines Over Her Olympic Manicure
In honor of Chloe Kim’s Olympic run, her mom got a manicure that she felt best represented her family. She had the Korean flag painted on one nail and the American flag painted on another. The two flags represent the family’s heritage.
Chloe loved her mom’s enthusiasm and couldn’t help but post a comment.
“My mama is the cutest,” Chloe wrote.