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Hyeonseo Lee

Hyeonseo Lee

North- and Southkorea-Expert
Languages : English, Korean

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Hyeonseo Lee is a North Korean refugee living in Seoul, South Korea. She´s currently an undergraduate student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies majoring in English and Chinese, and a Young Leader at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.Hyeonseo spends much of her time speaking about North Korean human rights and refugee issues, including a speech at the British Embassy in Seoul, and has personally met public officials like UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the

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Hyeonseo Lee is a North Korean refugee living in Seoul, South Korea. She´s currently an undergraduate student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies majoring in English and Chinese, and a Young Leader at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Hyeonseo spends much of her time speaking about North Korean human rights and refugee issues, including a speech at the British Embassy in Seoul, and has personally met public officials like UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the South Korean Minister of Unification, Yu Woo-ik, to discuss these issues.

In February 2013, she gave a TED Talk that has already surpassed 2 million views.  Hyeonseo has written articles for the Wall Street Journal Korea Real-Time, the London School of Economics Big Ideas blog and worked as a student journalist for the South Korean Ministry of Unification. She has also been interviewed by the BBC, CNN, CBS News, Swiss TV and numerous other television, newspaper and radio outlets spanning over 10 countries throughout the world. She is currently writing a book with other female North Koreans living in South Korea, and hopes to start an organization in the future to help North Korean refugees.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was "the best on the planet." It wasn’t until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder.  She escaped the country at 14 to begin a life in hiding as a refugee in China.

In this TED talk we hear her incredible personal tale of survival and hope. From her life inside North Korea, her escape and her experiences as a refugee. Her story a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.

Born in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee left for China in 1997. Now living in South Korea, she has become an activist for fellow refugees.

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