Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology was first established in 1971. Today, it is considered one of the best public research institutions in South Korea. With a strong emphasis on research, both the faculty and students undertake promising projects that can lead to contributions to academics and society.

Numerous notable figures in science, entertainment, and entrepreneurial areas received their higher education at KAIST. Here are some of the most prominent graduates at KAIST.

List of Distinguished KAIST Graduates

1. Rim Ji-Hoon

Rim Ji-Hoon became the youngest CEO in Korea when he was only 34 years old. This took place after his appointment as Kakao’s CEO. This company is well-known for its chat app Kakao Talk. He resigned from his post in 2018 and moved across the world to New York City. There, he’s working as a professor at the prestigious Stern School of Business at New York University.

2. Lee Jang-Won

Lee Jang-Won is part of the band Peppertones, which he founded alongside bandmate Shin Jae-pyung while they were studying at KAIST. They graduated from the Computer Science program. These KAIST graduates rose to fame after the release of their album titled Colorful Express. They earned critical acclaim for their song titled Superfantastic, for which they won a Korean Music Award.

3. Ryoo Ryong

Ryoo Ryong is the leader of the team that found a zeolite that would make the process of refining gasoline much quicker. The press called it a magical substance, and Ryon earned great recognition for their discovery. He obtained his undergraduate degree at Seoul National University and furthered his studies at KAIST to earn his master’s degree. Upon graduation, he worked at the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute. He then left the country and earned his doctorate at Stanford University. He has been a professor at KAIST for over 30 years.

4. Yi So-Yeon

Yi So-Yeon is an alumnus of KAIST and famous for being the first South Korean citizen to go on a space mission. After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at KAIST, she followed up with a doctorate. She became part of the Korean Astronaut Program and then left for Russia to train for her upcoming mission. She was in space for 11 days in 2008 with Russian cosmonauts. Although they had a rough landing, they all made it back safely. She is currently part of the Association of Spaceflights Professionals.

5. So-jung Kim

So-jung Kim was still a student at KAIST taking up data processing when she became part of Superstar K2. She was among the top 11 finalists, which launched her to fame. Kim released her first album, Herra, two years after the show. Despite her burgeoning career as a singer, she finished her degree at KAIST.

6. Nam Sung Kim

Nam Sung Kim took undergraduate and graduate studies at KAIST University before moving to the United States. There, he pursued a doctorate at the University of Michigan. Later on, Kim started to work at Samsung. Today, he is the Corporate Senior Vice President of the company. Samsung is one of the technological giants in the world.

7. Sukbok Chang

Sukbok Chang earned his master’s degree at KAIST before pursuing his doctorate studies at Harvard University. During his research, Chang led his team to make important chemical discoveries. Specifically, they made a great contribution to science upon their discovery of a copper-mediated reaction. Since 2012, this notable alumnus at KAIST has been the director of the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalizations at Korea’s Institute for Basic Science.

8. Hae-jin Lee

Hae-jin Lee is the founder of Naver, which is the most used search engine in South Korea. His company also founded Line; the instant messaging app. Line is one of the most popular apps in Asia. Thanks to this, Lee became a billionaire. Although he’s not Naver’s CEO since 2018, he’s currently leading expansion goals for the company.

9. Jung-ju Kim

Jung-ju Kim, a notable alumni of KAIST, is one of the richest men in South Korea. This is thanks to his company, Nexon, which is the largest gaming company in the country. He internationalized his business and it’s now present in over 150 countries. Kim is also part of the Collaborative Fund, which links him to other successful enterprises. Among these are Lyft, Reddit, and Quora.

10. Byeong-Tae Lee

Byeong-Tae Lee is a professor at KAIST, where he also got his master’s degree. He completed his doctorate studies at the University of Texas and became a financial consultant for global companies as well as the Korean government. His area of expertise centers on the relationship between economics and technology in the modern world.

11. Lee Min-hwa

Lee Min-hwa was the founder of Medison, the first medical device company in South Korea. He had an instrumental role in the growth of Korean startups. This was thanks to his participation in the creation of the Korea Venture Business Association. He was a professor at KAIST, where he had previously earned his master’s and doctorate degrees.

12. Shin Sung-chul

Shing Sung-chul is a physicist and the current president of KAIST. He completed his master’s degree at KAIST before pursuing a doctorate at Northwestern University in the United States. He founded the Institute of Nano Science and Technology. He has registered 37 patents during his career. He was the founding president of DGIST University, which was previously a research center.

13. Oh Hyun-min

Oh Hyun-min finished mathematical sciences at KAIST. He became famous for his participation in the reality TV show The Genius: Black Garnet in 2014. The following year he was part of the cast of The Genius Grand Final. Since then he has become a TV personality, with numerous participations in different shows as himself.  

14. Yoon Song-Yee

Yoon Song-Ye is the current CEO of NCSOFT, a globally recognized online game company. Yoon, a notable alumni of KAIST, earned her bachelor’s degree at KAIST and then a doctorate at MIT. The Wall Street Journal named her Woman to Watch, and her leadership skills and visionary goals have been widely recognized.

15. Eunjoon Kim

Eunjoon Kim is a world-renowned scientist and researcher. With over 150 publications, he has focused his work on neuroscience. He’s the director of the Center for Synaptic Brain Dysfunctions, which is part of the Institute for Basic Science. He has received numerous awards for his work in the area.


We hope this article will encourage you to apply at KASIT. Check out the Study in Korea for more insightful information about studying in this fascinating country. For currently open programs across the globe, check out our Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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