Helie Lee

Helie Lee is the author of the national bestseller Still Life With Rice (Scribner 1996), and In The Absence of Sun (Harmony Books 2002), memoirs in which she chronicles her family’s experience in war-torn Korea from the 1930s to 1997. 

            Born in Seoul, Korea on August 29, 1964, Ms. Lee’s family immigrated first to Montreal, Canada when she was four, then to California one year later.  Ms. Lee’s family pursued their American dream, settling in the San Fernando Valley where Ms. Lee attended El Camino Real High School, then graduated from UCLA in 1986 with a degree in Political Science.  While researching her first book, she worked on such shows as In Living Color, Saved By The Bell and the Martin Lawrence Show.

Ms. Lee’s current work, In The Absence of Sun specifically details her Korean-American family's risky attempt to rescue her uncle from North Korea.  The story has been featured on Nightline, CNN, the Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, Life & Times, and Oprah. She has spoken at Stanford, Princeton, USC, UCLA, Northeastern University, Amherst, the Korean American Coalition, the Korean Cultural Center, the Korean Youth Community Center, KASCON, The Museum of Tolerance, CNN, AsiaWeek, and NPR.  Her courageous story led Cosmopolitan Magazine to select Ms. Lee out of thousands of women nominated for their "1999 Fun Fearless Female" competition as a "Freedom Fighter." 

Ms. Lee has also been published in Mademoiselle, Essence, and KoreAm Journal. She is currently working on a documentary titled "MACHO LIKE ME" which follows her six-and-a-half month journey living as a man.

Ms. Lee is a member of the Asian American Writers Workshop, PEN, a community of writers defending freedom of expression and building a literary culture, and Visual Communications, a nonprofit organization that promotes Asian Pacific media arts for the American public. 

Ms. Lee lectures around the country on her bicultural heritage and human rights issues for North Korea refugees.  In June of 2002, Ms. Lee was invited by Senator Ted Kennedy to testify at the Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Immigration.  Ultimately, Ms. Lee embraces her responsibility as an ambassador of Korean history and culture by creating awareness through stories that serve as a floodlight on the closed world of North Korea.


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