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"Survivor": Bureaucracy

Yul Kwon (Courtesy of Yul Kwon)

Finally, someone qualified to navigate the backstabbing intrigue of Washington: Yul Kwon, winner of "Survivor: Cook Islands" in 2006, was appointed Wednesday as deputy chief of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

He may not be the administration's only independently wealthy appointee ($1 million prize, hello!), but he's probably the only one whose wedding was covered by TV Guide Channel and who co-hosted "Shark Week."

Kwon really stands out, though, as one of the few reality victors to, well, amount to anything. "A lot of 'Survivor' winners have been poor role models," he acknowledged, as we recalled the one convicted of tax evasion, the one who got into porn -- oh, and don't forget the "Big Brother" winner arrested last week on drug charges.

The difference, said the Yale law grad, 34, is that the show "happened at a good time in my life." Like his second runner-up Becky Lee -- a close pal now running a domestic-violence ed program in D.C. -- he said he joined the show "to have a platform for the issues I care about." Passionate about getting minorities involved in politics, Kwon was an early Obama campaigner.

"I feel like this country is in a critical time right now," he told us. "If there's one place you can have an impact, it's here."

Kwon just moved to Arlington from California with bride Sophie Tan. In the new job, he said, he'll be tasked with making the commission more consumer-friendly and educating the public on "why telecom issues are relevant to their lives."

From left: Becky Lee, Yul Kwon, Brad Virata and Jenny Guzon-Bae during the first episode of "Survivor: Cook Islands." (Monty Brinton/CBS)Enlarge Image

All the scheming of "Survivor" -- will it help in D.C.? "I played a clean game!" he insisted. "I showed you could win by playing with integrity." However, he saw the irony that his new agency "has imposed fines for the kind of wardrobe malfunctions that are a hallmark of a show like 'Survivor.' " With the next controversial ruling, "I'm sure there are going to be a billion shots of me on the Internet wearing a grass skirt."

By The Reliable Source  |  October 22, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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Next: Read this: Looking for answers edition


I'm a Survivor-holic, and Yul has been my favorite contestant so far. He demonstrated sincerity, loyalty and maturity in a game that turns even the best-intentioned people into camera-hungry jerks. I know the show is edited to death, but he truly seemed like one of the rare good people to participate. I'm delighted to know he'll be a "neighbor" of sorts, and hope that by accepting a federal job he will encourage other intelligent young people to do the same.

Posted by: kbockl | October 22, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Why is the Post being so shallow? Mr. Kwon 34-year-old Yale law graduate who must have some kind of background in communications law. So where is the rest of his resume? Is it because he is Asian that you so cleverly fail to do balanced reporting? The Post should be ashamed of itself for being so patronizing. Really. All of you, including Lally Weymouth's daughter, should be ashamed of yourselves.

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | October 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Well, at least someone can get a job.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | October 22, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Finally, someone qualified to navigate the backstabbing intrigue of Washington: Yul Kwon, winner of "Survivor: Cook Islands" in 2006, was appointed Wednesday as deputy chief of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau."

Is this another hoax from the yesmen or satire from the onoin?

Posted by: spamsux1 | October 22, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for writing, eyemakeupneeded1. As you can guess, our space is limited, and the focus of our column is on celebrities, not government appointments. If you're curious, here's Kwon's bio in full from the FCC:

"His government experience includes lecturing at the FBI Academy, drafting science and technology legislation as an aide to Senator Joseph Lieberman, and clerking for Judge Barrington D. Parker on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. In the business and technology sector, Mr. Kwon has held positions at McKinsey & Company, Google, and the Trium Group. He also practiced law as an attorney at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis and at Venture Law Group. In 2006, Mr. Kwon became the first Asian American to win the CBS reality show, Survivor. His subsequent media activities include working as a special correspondent for CNN and as a co-host for the Discovery Channel. Mr. Kwon obtained his B.S. degree in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University and his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served on the editorial board of the Yale Law Journal." 

Posted by: The Reliable Source | October 22, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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