Q&A: NU senior Yejun Kim participates in Jeopardy! National College Championship Quarterfinal


Photo courtesy of Yejun Kim

McCormick senior Yejun Kim. She stands on the podium during the Jeopardy! National College Championship Quarterfinals, which airs Wednesday night.

Sydney Hogan, Reporter

What is a Wildcat? McCormick senior Yejun Kim is competing in the Jeopardy! National College Championship Quarterfinal airing on ABC Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST. At Northwestern, Kim is studying chemical engineering. She spoke with The Daily about her experience on the show and her thoughts looking back on the application and filming process. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Daily: Why did you want to compete on Jeopardy!?

Kim: I watched Jeopardy! as a kid with my family. I stopped watching when I got busy with high school, but I started rewatching it with my roommate in sophomore year of college. I love the show, but I’d never seriously considered trying to go on it because I don’t do trivia competitively.

The Daily: What was the application process like?

Kim: My roommate and I took the online test together spontaneously in November of 2020. We both got invited to audition for the shows, which were in January and February of 2021. That was cool, and we got to play a mock Jeopardy! game over Zoom with contest producers. But there was radio silence after that, and we just assumed nothing happened. I didn’t get the call until September of 2021. It was from a contestant producer at 7 p.m., and it was so crazy because I wasn’t expecting it. She called me and gave me the details. I was like, “I don’t know what’s happening.” It was really surreal.

The Daily: What was the competition like? How did you prepare?

Kim: I rewatched a lot of old Jeopardy! games and looked up common questions and categories. I also did a lot of traditional studying on topics I was weaker in. We filmed around Thanksgiving break in Los Angeles at Sony. There were 36 contestants and 12 quarterfinal games. We would watch everyone else film, so every day was 10 hours in the studio. Even though each episode took an hour to film, it went by so fast. One of the things I regret is not relaxing more. Obviously I was having fun, but I was so scared and stressed that it was a super weird feeling. 

The Daily: What was your favorite part of the show?

Kim: Getting to stand on the stage was one of the best parts. My favorite part was writing my name on the podium. It only took two tries — I asked them to erase it the first time. Also, because of COVID, there were no friends or family allowed. But I still got to hang out with the other 35 people, and I think that was one of the best parts. We all still have a huge group chat.

The Daily: How was the experience as a whole for you?

Kim: Even though I never thought it would happen, I’m really glad it did, and I’m excited for everyone to see it. Not just my friends and family, but also people at Northwestern. 

Email: [email protected]

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