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Yul Kwon
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Contestant-related press and rumors
Andrew Mangino, writing for the Yale Daily News
September 12, 2006: Yul's (law) alma mater comes up with an extensive biographical sketch (almost as long as CBS's!) days before the premiere of Survivor: Cook Islands:

Law School grad competes to ‘survive’ reality television
    Just when it seemed as if Yul Kwon had survived it all - grueling Marine officer training, the symbolic systems major at Stanford and three years at Yale Law School - he found himself on an isolated island in the South Pacific this summer, struggling, once again, to survive.
    Whether Kwon foundered or prospered is still a tightly kept secret, but beginning this Thursday evening, millions of Americans tuning into CBS will be looking for clues - the Yalie is one of 20 contestants on the newest season of Survivor....
    Kwon, whom many family, friends and Yale peers described as a role model - quietly brilliant, physically agile and an expert in group dynamics - was the only contestant to question the forced ethnic divide, according to host Jeff Probst. Probst called Kwon one of the 'most interesting' and 'definitely one of the smartest guys' he has met.
    One of Kwon's close Yale friends, Nisha Chhabra LAW '00, echoed Probst's sentiments. 'He's very concerned with racial groups being expected to behave and perform according to stereotype or being treated in a discriminatory matter,' Chhabra said, adding that she trusts Kwon's decision to participate in the show despite his concerns about segregation. 'One of the reasons he tried out was because it really was important to him that there be a greater presence of Asian members on TV,' Chhabra said. 'He was willing to take the risk even with this ethnic divide twist in order to puncture some of the Asian stereotypes.'
    Chhabra said she thinks Kwon will dispel such preconceived notions. After all, Kwon has been a social activist, martial artist, boxer, federal appeals court clerk, lawyer, technology expert, businessman, staffer for Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Marine officer in training, just to name a few of the roles he has filled in the past decade.
    His former employer at a Washington, D.C., law firm, Scott Blake Harris, said Kwon adapted to new circumstances at work without any need for instruction or adjustment time, an ability that may serve him well on the barren Cook Islands. 'The truth is, I don't think we taught Yul anything,' Harris said. 'You take his ability to get along with people and you combine it with brilliance - that's one hell of a package.'
    A longtime friend of Kwon, Yidrienne Lai, met him as an undergraduate while writing an article for a Stanford student newspaper. Lai was investigating the seemingly unstoppable student, who had organized one of the largest Asian bone marrow transplant drives in U.S. history for his best friend, who was dying of cancer and in need of matching marrow. Kwon would later win a prestigious service award for his unprecedented efforts. 'He put his life on hold to find bone marrow for his best friend,' Lai said. 'If I were a tribemate, I would totally want him on my tribe. It's remarkable how much he wants to help out other people - he's the type of guy who would help an old lady cross the street. … He would bust his ass. If you have to catch fish or chop coconuts, I'm sure he would do quite well.'
    Although members of Kwon's family and his friends were excited that he would be on national television, few said they were particularly surprised. 'It's consistent with his character,' said his older brother, Paul. 'I was excited. I thought this was a great opportunity, but we were all like, "Oh, just don't get hurt." '
    Kwon's brother, who said his sibling would probably donate a large chunk of any potential winnings to his parents, believes Kwon's strongest asset is his mind, which, he hopes, would have allowed him to surmount 'hard-core physical' opponents.
    Chhabra warned that Kwon's intelligence is 'incredibly easy' to underestimate. 'The first day of law school, he showed up in the dining hall in a baseball cap backwards and a tank top, and he just seemed like funny California - he didn't come across as an east coast person,' said Chhabra, who soon discovered in one of her first-semester courses that Kwon's essays were praised publicly by the professor and that he was one of 'those rare law students' who could cram before a test and still perform flawlessly.
    On Survivor, flawless or not, Kwon will surely be on full display as part of an increasingly controversial season, which New York City's first Asian-American councilman called on television executives to cancel altogether. But CBS has refused to yield to pressure, arguing that they 'actively recruited minorities this season primarily as a result of the criticism faced in the past with not having enough diversity on the cast,' CBS spokeswoman Lori DelliColli said.
    Regardless, millions will still be watching. 'I am going to have to watch Survivor now,' said Harris, Kwon's former boss. 'I'm half-embarrassed, but I can't not watch Yul.'..."

Official CBS site for Survivor: Cook Islands
August 23, 2006: Officially revealed as a Survivor: Cook Islands contestant on CBS's The Early Show. From his official CBS bio:

   "Yul Kwon was born in Queens, New York to parents who emigrated from South Korea. The family moved to the West Coast when he was six years old and he was raised in Concord, California. He attended high school at Northgate High in Walnut Creek, California, where he played varsity water polo and track and graduated valedictorian.

Kwon then attended Stanford University and obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in symbolic systems (theoretical computer science). While at Stanford, he received the James Lyons Award for Service, attended officer candidates school for the U.S. Marine Corps and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Kwon went on to receive his Juris Doctor Degree from Yale Law School, where he served on the editorial board of the Yale Law Journal.
    Kwon has enjoyed a diverse career straddling both the private and public sectors in law, business and technology. He practiced a mix of litigation, appellate, transactional and regulatory work at several law firms. He also served as a judicial clerk to a federal judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Additionally, he worked as a legislative aide to Senator Joseph Lieberman in Washington, D.C., where he helped draft sections of the Homeland Security Bill and other technology-related legislation. Several years ago, Kwon decided to switch careers and become a management consultant at McKinsey. From there, he joined Google's business strategy group and most recently went back into consulting.
    Kwon's favorite hobbies include politics, boxing, ultimate fighting and volunteering with kids. He describes himself as idealistic, compassionate and ambitious. He became passionate about creating awareness for more minority bone marrow donors in the U.S. after launching a major search to find a match for his best friend who was diagnosed with leukemia, but ultimately succumbed to the disease.
    Kwon is a member of the Washington, D.C. and California State Bar Associations. He is also a member of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity.
    Kwon currently resides in San Mateo, California. His birth date is February 14, 1975."
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