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Updated: Tobias Kim ’17 dies in Argentina, cause of death remains unknown

 Tobias Kim '17 poses with his brother and with his mother, Joanna, after high school graduation.
Tobias Kim '17 poses with his brother and with his mother, Joanna, after high school graduation.

Tobias Kim ’17 died while abroad in Argentina on Friday. He was 19.


Kim was visiting his mother's family in Argentina, according to an email sent by Kim's former high school to alumni on Friday evening. A friend said that Kim was in Argentina helping his grandmother, who lives in the Buenos Aires area.

Kim's mother, Joanna, and his younger brother, who is underage, were on their way to Argentina on Friday, according to the high school’s email. They could not be reached for comment for this story.

The cause of death remains unclear.

The University wrote in a statement Saturday that the cause of death “appears to be accidental.” According to the statement sent by his former high school, Trinity Christian Academy, Kim “was killed in Argentina.” Neither statement included additional details.

A representative of the judicial morgue of Buenos Aires, which has jurisdiction over Buenos Aires proper but not its suburbs, told The Daily Princetonian Sunday they had no records matching Kim's identity.

At the time of his death, Kim was taking a year off from the University following a suspension, a student close to the situation said.


During his time at Princeton, Kim lived in an eight-person suite in 1937 Hall in Wilson College. His roommates declined to comment for this story.

His residential college adviser, Katherine Clifton ’15, described Tobias as friendly, perceptive and determined.

“During our one-on-one meeting I asked him about the tattoo on his arm,” Clifton said. “He told me it depicted a bird from his favorite poem. Tobias and I then launched into a long discussion on poetry, and he reminded me that there's always more to someone than meets the eye,” Clifton said.

Kim was a member of the Swimming and Diving team.

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“The swim team was incredibly important to him and [he] really felt like the swim team was his home away from home,” Wilson College Director of Student Life Regan Crotty said, “We consider Tobias to be a valued member of the Wilson community and also of the Princeton University community as a whole. I know that everyone at Wilson and people who knew him on campus are devastated by this, saddened, and shocked.”

Over a dozen teammates were contacted, but none responded to requests for comment.

Chad Baldwin, who attended Trinity Christian Academy with Kim and described himself as one of his best friends, said that Kim was both an incredible swimmer and very musically inclined.

“He was very talented, very gifted at the piano and the guitar,” Baldwin said. “He loved music. It was one of his passions. ... He would go to swim meets and just blow the competition out of the water. He was just an incredible person.”

Baldwin also remarked on his incredible sense of humor and “his ability to make people laugh and smile on any given day.”

Sam Lite ’14, who met Kim over winter break, said that he would really remember his positive outlook.

“I was immediately struck by how goofy and funny he was, and that's a thing that stuck with me,” Lite said. “I think his loss is a loss for the broad community. He really gave a lot to the community, and he really tried to put a smile on everyone's faces.”

A memorial service was held in remembrance of Kim at Murray Dodge Hall at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The service was primarily attended by members of the swimming team, as well as other close friends and family of Kim.

Editor-in-Chief Marcelo Rochabrun and staff writer Lorenzo Quiogue contributed reporting.