John enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2003 and left service as a Staff Sergeant in 2013. He worked as a Korean linguist and intelligence analyst, with assignments including the 501st MI BDE in South Korea. While in the Army, John studied Korean at the Defense Language Institute. After the military, he received a BA and MA from the University of Pennsylvania, double-majoring in History and East Asian Languages & Civilizations for his BA, and in East Asian Languages & Civilizations with a Korean Studies concentration for his MA. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the department of Religious Studies at Yale University, concentrating in the fields of Asian Religions and Religion & Modernity. John is planning to pursue a career in academia, researching and teaching on the history and politics of religion and on East Asian history and culture. He also has professional experience as a journalist covering North Korea.