Hei-ock Kim, '89

Hei-ock Kim
When you first came to Princeton what did you think your major would be?

I honestly had no idea what it would be. I had played classical piano seriously all my life, and was very excited by the opportunity to explore new disciplines.

What made you decide to major in philosophy?

I originally lucked into taking my first philosophy course by meaning to avoid taking math, which I’m horrible at.  I soon discovered that I loved how studying philosophy taught me to lend structure to my thought process, which naturally tended to range far and wide looking for all possible answers to questions and also was, admittedly, pretty argumentative.  In addition, I knew that a philosophy degree would allow me to consider a variety of career options, such a law or business, if I decided to pursue something other than music.

Are there any stories about your experience as a philosophy major at Princeton that you’d like to share?

Well, the fact that I found my Logic course completely illogical is something I only share to make people laugh.  On the other hand, German philosophy suited me to a tee – perhaps as an echo of the fact that Beethoven and Brahms were among the composers I understood best at the time.

What did you do immediately after leaving Princeton?

I went to The Juilliard School of Music to earn my Masters degree in piano performance. No, I didn’t end up pursuing law or business.

What do you do now?

After earning my doctorate in piano performance and spending a couple decades performing and teaching, I took a hiatus from the professional life to see if I had left other interesting career stones unturned. Following a keen interest in nature, I dabbled briefly in the world of marine biology, and now am responding to a long-buried passion for organic gardening and native landscape design. [This interview was conducted in January 2013]

Final words?

Listen carefully, and express yourself clearly. People respond best when they believe you’ve truly heard what they’ve said, and when they believe they truly understand what you’ve said.