Beyond the 38th Parallel: The Realities of North Korea and the Path to Free and Unified Korea

Event time: 
Monday, November 6, 2023 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Linsly-Chittenden Hall (LC ), 102 See map
63 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

We will delve deep into the intricacies of life in North Korea, beyond the common narratives and misperceptions. Drawing from firsthand accounts, the session aims to provide an authentic glimpse into the nation’s socio-political fabric. As we journey through the realities of North Korea, we will also explore the broader implications of these truths on regional stability. Toward the conclusion, the discussion will pivot towards potential solutions to the ongoing challenges posed by North Korea, culminating in an exploration of the profound significance and potential paths to a unified Korean Peninsula. Join us for a comprehensive look at one of the world’s most enigmatic regions and the possibilities that lie ahead for its future.

Born and meticulously schooled in the heart of Pyongyang, Seohyun Lee is not just a North Korean defector; she’s a beacon of hope and a vital voice on human rights. A product of North Korea’s elite education system, Seohyun displayed academic excellence and leadership from a young age, earning her place at the esteemed Kim Il Sung University and later, a transformative experience at Dongbei University of Economics and Finance in China between 2010-2014. A first-hand witness to the brutalities under Kim Jong Un’s reign, Seohyun’s conviction led her and her family on a harrowing escape route to South Korea, eventually finding sanctuary in the U.S. in 2016. Since then, her mission has been clear: to raise global awareness about North Korea’s hidden realities. Her compelling TEDx talk, “Our bubbles of certainty: A perspective from my life in North Korea,” and her significant briefing to the UN Security Council in 2023, are testaments to her influence. Further validating her expertise, she was recognized as a Korea-Unification Opinion Leader in 2023 and had the distinguished honor of discussing North Korean human rights with South Korea’s First Lady, Kim Keon Hee. Besides her advocacy, Seohyun’s scholarly pursuits shine, as evidenced by receiving prestigious awards like the Lindsay Lloyd North Korea Freedom Scholarship and the Otto Wormier Scholarship consecutively in 2022 and 2023. Now, as a student at Columbia University’s School of Public Affairs, Seohyun is honing her knowledge, steadfast in her commitment to a free North Korea and a proactive participant in shaping its future.

Seohyun Lee - Human Rights Advocate & Master of International Affairs Student, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University