All about Chloe Kim’s parents: Jong and Boran sacrificed to support Kim’s dreams

Chloe Kim’s record-breaking snowboarding career continues following her gold-medal performance at the Beijing Olympics. Kim’s second Olympics felt slightly different from the first: her parents weren’t there to support her. Due to the resurgence of the Omicron variant, China set strict health and safety protocols that barred non-competitors from outside China from attending. 

“I do think for sure the biggest hurdle might be not having my parents,” Kim told People. “I mean, they are my No. 1 fans. I always look forward to seeing their faces at the bottom of the pipe, cheering me on.”

Chloe Kim’s parents, Jong Jin and Boran Yun, crossed paths in Switzerland, working for travel agencies. They moved to the United States in 1982 and started a family. They raised Chloe alongside her older sisters Erica and Tracy. 

Jong and Boran are of South Korean descent. They kept their children connected with their Korean roots by organizing an annual visit to their country of origin. “It’s cool,” Kim talked to The Washington Post about visiting South Korea. “I feel like I have another life.”

The Olympics in South Korea were extra special for Kim as her extended family saw her compete and win the gold medal. She told People:

“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.”

Jong inadvertently introduced Chloe to snowboarding: he used her as bait to convince Boran to snowboard. Kim told USA Today Sports:

“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.”

Chloe’s father then sent Kim to Switzerland, not to snowboard but to learn French. By then, however, the snowboarding bug had stuck. The Washington Post reported that Chloe would wake up at 4 a.m., take two trains to a halfpipe in France, and continue training. 

Kim and Jong would practice together every time he visited. Chloe demonstrated a unique talent for the sport, but her parents never forced her to do anything she didn’t want to do. 

Chloe returned to the United States aged eight, and enrolled in a developmental program. Kim and Boran homeschooled her on weekdays and drove her to Mammoth mountain to sharpen her skills. 

Jong quit her job in engineering to support Kim’s dreams. “Obviously, when I was 8, I had no idea what he was doing,” Chloe told The Washington Post. “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.”

His sacrifice paid off when Chloe won a gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics. An emotional Chloe told Today that the win reminded her of her parents’ sacrifices. Jong told CNN that his American dream had come true. He continued:

“I was very stressed because everyone was saying Chloe was going to win gold but no one knows the result — that I cannot control. Now I’m happy, all the stress is gone. I’m the dad of an Olympic gold medalist, not many people have this kind of feeling.”

Jong told Today that Chloe was born in the year of the dragon. Chloe told NBC Olympics that Jong texted her and told her to be a dragon. Kim promised to try her best, which turned out to be gold-medal quality. 

“If I had a message to give my dad, it’d probably be ‘thank you, thank you, thank you,” Kim said in a California tourism board video. “He’s helped me so much on this crazy journey. Giving up his job, being away from my mom, and being away from home for that much just because of me? It’s a lot. And I thank him for it.”

Kim enjoys shopping trips to the mall with her mom and sisters in her free time. She told People:

“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.”

Boran made headlines at the Korean Olympics by sporting the Korean and American flags on her nails to represent the family’s dual heritage. “My mama is the cutest,” Chloe wrote alongside a photo of her mother’s nails

Jong and Boran didn’t make it to the Beijing Olympics, but their influence helped Kim conquer the world for a second time. Kim honored them via a heartfelt video made in collaboration with P&G. 

In the film, we see a young Kim drink seaweed soup, Miyeok-guk. She told People that it was her favorite dish growing up. Boran would pack containers of the soup for Jong and Kim to take on their travels to the mountains. Chloe showered more praise on her mom:

“My mom’s amazing, she’s my bestie. We do everything together. She was always the person that was a bit behind the scenes. She would stay back, she would take care of my sisters. She would work and she was like the glue that held our family together.”

In her video, Kim says that she can lean on her parents even when they are not around: “Even though they’re not there in person with me, they’re still there. They don’t have to be there for me to feel safe.”