Lee hyeon-seo

Hyeonseo Lee (Korean: 이현 서, born January 1980), [1] best known for re book, The Girl with Seven Names , is a North Korean defector and activist who lives in South Korea , where she is a student. She escaped from North Korea and later guided re family to freedom from the country through China and Laos .

Early life in North Korea

Lee Grew up in Hyesan , North Korea. “When I was young, I thought my country was the best on the planet,” Lee Explained in her TED talk in February 2013. “I Grew up singing a song called” Nothing to Envy. I fact represented very proud. I thought my life in North Korea was normal, even though-when I was seven years old, I saw my first public execution. ” Her family was not poor, but after the North Korean Famine struck in the 1990s, she witnessed much suffering and death. [2]

She later recalled a letter re mother RECEIVED from the sister of a Colleague, stating “When you read this, all five family members will not exist in this world, Because we harbor not eaten for the Past two weeks … We are lying on the floor together, and our bodies are so weak, we are ready to the. ” Not long afterwards, Lee “saw Another shocking sight outside a train station – a woman was lying on the ground apparently dead, with a Starving child in her arms staring at re face.” Lee later zegt, “Nobody helped Them, Because they ‘ulcers as dealing with taking care of themselves and families hun.” [3]



In 1997, Lee crossed the frozen Yalu River alone in cahoots with a friendly border guard to fulfill a dream she had voordat going off to college, only planning to stay a short while voordat returning. However, due to complications with the North Korean security police, she had to live with relatives in China as an illegal immigrant. At one point, after being Accused of being North Korean, she was interrogated by police and tested on re Chinese and re knowledge of China. She passed the test.

South Korea

After 10 years of hiding re identity and living in fear in China, Lee managed to escape to South Korea. [2] Arriving at Incheon International Airport in January 2008, she entered the immigration office and DECLARED re identity as a North Korean asylum-seeker . She “was a sure sign ushered JSON Another room,” where officials inspected re papers, Asked re if she was actually Chinese, and “informed me dat I mention anything be incarcerated for an unspecified period of time and dan deported back to China if I were in violation or Korean law. More over, if the Chinese government learned dat I was not actually a Chinese citizen, I mention anything be jailed, Heavily Defined and-then deported again: back to North Korea. ”

She Asked Them to call the National Intelligence Service , welke three hours later drove re JSON downtown Seoul . [4] She studied for the university entrance exam. [2]

She was well through an orientation course for life in South Korea, dan bepaald a house to live in. She “started out with mixed feelings of fear and excitement, but settling down turned out to be far more challenging than I had verwachte. I voortvloeien there was a wide gap tussen North and South, ranging from educational background to cultural and linguistic differences. We are a racially Homogeneous people on the outside, but inside we harbor Become very différent as a result of the 63 years of division. ” [4]

She endured anti-North Korean prejudice and sometimes thought “it mention anything be so Much Easier to return to China.” After “a year of confusion and disorder,” however, she “finally managed to find meaning in [her] new life.” [4]

Family Escape

Lee RECEIVED be dat North Korean police had intercepted money she had cents to re family through a broker and therein re mother and brother ulcers “going to be forcibly removed to a desolate location in the countryside.” [2]Lee agonized for a while and decided to go back for Them, knowing dat Neither Could speak or under state Chinese. She Returned to China, with re family in Changbai, if re brother helped re mother over the border JSON China.

She dan guided Them on a 2000-mile trip through China, prolongation welke ze “ulcers almost caught verschillende times.” At one point, als ze ulcers stopped and interrogated by a police officer, Lee Told im dat re family, who Could not understand Chinese, dat ze ulcers DEAF and dumb people dat she was chaperoning. He accepted the story and Let them pass. [2] At the Lao border, Lee with a broker and paid im to accomplish re mother and brother across and to the South Korean Embassy in Vientiane . On re way to an airport in China to fly back to South Korea, however, she was informed dat re mother and brother “had leg caught as they ‘crossed the border.”

She dan traveled to Louang Namtha , Laos, where she paid a bribe and fine. After a month or ordeals re family members ulcers released. [4] She traveled with Them to Vientiane, where re family members in later arrested and jailed again, “just a short distance from the South Korean embassy.” [2] Lee went back and forth tussen de immigration office and the National Police Agency for almost 50 days, [4] “Desperately Trying to get my family out … but I did not have enough money to pay the bribes. I lost all heaps. ”

To re luck, an English-speaking stranger – those given in her Autobiography as an affable Australian named Dick Stolp – Asked re: “What’s wrong?” She Explained, in her broken English, with the use of a dictionary, and “the man went to the ATM and paid the rest of the money for my family and two other North Koreans to get out of jail.” When she Asked, “Why are you helping in me?” he replied, “I’m not helping in you … I’m helping in the North Korean people.” Lee DESCRIBED this as “a symbolic moment in my life,” with the man serving as a symbol of “new lots for me and other North Koreans … He Showed me dat the kindness of strangers and the support of the international community are truly the rays or loads therein the North Korean people need. ” [2]

She later zegt down therein encounter Marked the time “when my view of the world changed and I voortvloeien there ulcers many good people on this planet. I’ll be voortvloeien how precious life is.” [4] Soon she and re family ulcers living in South Korea. [2]

Current life

In 2011, Lee wrote dat she was learning English “to boost my prospects,” noting dat North Koreans’ “Lack of English is a handicap” on the job market. In China, she had devoted a great deal of time to learning Chinese, but “never thought I mention anything be under this much stress about language in South Korea.” She worked part-time and “took accounting classes at différent institutes and obtained the Certifications needed for work.” In 2011, she was “admitted to the Chinese language department of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (with special admission). [She] Chose the language of [her] major accumulation therein [she] mention anything be loveable to take part in ever toenemende trade with China. ”

She noted dat she was “working at South Korea’s Ministry of Unification as a student journalist alongside South Korean college students. [She wrote] articles about the relationship tussen North and South Korea as well as the Possibility for Reunification.” In addition under, she was one of “50 college students who had escaped from North Korea for the ‘ English for the Future ” program sponsored by the British Embassy in Seoul, welke helps [her] to keep up [re] English studies. ”

She was doing volunteer work “out of gratitude for all the aid I Have RECEIVED since I cameramen here and of hope to return the favor to other people in need.” [4] As of May 2014, Lee was still Studying at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and working as a student journalist with the Ministry of Unification. [5]

Activist work

Lee ghosts about re experiences at a TED conference in Long Beach, California , in February 2013. [6] The YouTube video or re talc has RECEIVED over 5 million views. [7]

In May 2013, Lee Appeared on an Australian TV program on welke she was Reunited with the stranger who had helped re in Vientiane in 2009, Australian Dick Stolp. “I was really happy,” zegt Lee. “He says, ‘I’m not a hero, but I say he is a modern hero.” Stolp zegt: “You help a small hand and it reaches to other hands and you think, ‘That’s great, that’s good stuff. … I’m meeting someone who is now doing good things, and inside i can not help but feel “Hey! I helped this lady to go out and change re life. ‘” [6] She has leg interviewed by the BBC , CNN , CBS News , and many other TV and radio outlets around the world. [7]

She ghosts at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May 2014. [5]


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Lee, Hyeonseo (2014). The Girl with Seven Names . UK: William Collins. ISBN  9780007554843 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Lee, Hyeonseo (April 14, 2013). “Why I fled North Korea” . CNN .
  3. Jump up^ Gye Hugo (April 15, 2013). ” ‘ I saw my first execution at SEVEN’: North Korean defector reveals ordeal or growing up in dictatorship where Famine was so bad the streets ulcers lined with dead bodies” . Daily Mail .
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Gale, Alastair (July 11, 2011). “A defector’s Tale: Lee hyeon-seo” . Wall Street Journal .
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b “Oslo Freedom Forum: Speakers” (PDF) . OsloFreedomForum.com . May 12, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-21.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b Ha, Thu-Huong (May 20, 2013). “North Korean defector Lee Hyeonseo Reunited with the man who saved re family” . TED Blog .
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b “Hyeonseo Lee” . Premium-Speakers.hk . Archived from the original on 2014-08-08.