Hyeonseo Lee grew up in North Korea but escaped to China in 1997. In 2008, after more than 10 years there, she came to Seoul, South Korea, where she struggled to adjust to life in the bustling city. Now a student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, she has become an advocate for fellow refugees, even helping close relatives leave North Korea.
'The most riveting TED talk ever' Oprah Hyeonseo Lee brought the human consequences of global inaction on North Korea to the world's doorstep ... Against all odds she escaped, survived, and had the courage to speak out' Samantha Power, U.S. representative to the U.N. 'This is a powerful story of an escapee from North Korea. In the hallowed meeting rooms of the United Nations in New York, ambassadors from North Korea recently sought to shout down stories like this. But these voices will not be silenced. Eventually freedom will be restored. History will vindicate Hyeonseo Lee and those like her for the risks they ran so that their bodies and their minds could be free. And so that we could know the truth' Michael Kirby, chair of the U.N. commission on human rights abuses in North Korea 'When I first met Hyeonseo Lee, the unflinching manner in which she told her story was inspirational. She experienced hunger, coldness, fear, terror, threats and pursuit. All this she had to endure, simply for being a North Korean refugee. But the one thing that she held onto was her humanity, ever stronger as she continuously sublimated her hardships into hope. This is a sad and beautiful story of a girl who could not even keep her name, yet overcome all with the identity of what it is to be human' Jang Jin-sung, author of 'Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee - A Look Inside North Korea'