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Hyeonseo Lee

North Korean Defector

  • Global issues

Author and Founder of the NGO "North Star NK"

When you encounter an obstacle on the road, don´t think of it as an obstacle – think of it as as a challenge to find a new path.

– Hyeonseo Lee


Hyeonseo Lee is a North Korean defector living in Seoul, South Korea. Her recently published memoir, The Girl with Seven Names – A North Korean Defector’s Story, has been published in 18 languages in 25 countries. Over 8 million people have viewed her TED Talk (including the cross-posting on Youtube) about her life in North Korea, her escape to China and struggle to bring her family to freedom. Hyeonseo has given testimony about North Korean human rights in front of a special panel of the UN Security Council in 2014 and at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2016. She’s also discussed North Korean human rights issues with various officials, including UN Ambassador Samantha Powers.

The most riveting Ted Talk ever.

– Oprah

Hyeonseo has written articles for The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She has also been interviewed by TIME, BBC, CNN, Reuters, AP, AFP, NYT, FOX, CBS, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Glamour magazine and countless other television, newspaper and radio outlets throughout the world. She is currently writing her second book with other female North Koreans living in South Korea, and is starting an NGO, “North Star NK,” to help North Korean refugees improve their lives and interact with the international community.

Languages: English, Chinese, Korean

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