Contact: Ryan McKenna
Phone: (202) 691-4217

WASHINGTON Jean H. Lee will serve as the new Director of the Wilson Center’s Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy, drawing upon her unique experiences as a Pulitzer-Prize-nominated journalist and expert on South and North Korea.

“The Korean peninsula could not have a higher profile, and we are thrilled to have Jean as the new director of our Korea Center,” said Jane Harman, Wilson Center President and CEO. “She will bring to Washington a more in-depth understanding of the dynamics that are driving North and South Korea, and help inform U.S. decision-making on an issue of incredible consequence for the United States and the world.”

Lee is a veteran foreign correspondent and expert on North Korea. She led the Associated Press news agency’s coverage of the Korean Peninsula as bureau chief from 2008 to 2013. In 2011, Lee became the first American reporter granted extensive access on the ground in North Korea, and in January 2012 opened AP’s Pyongyang bureau, the only U.S. text/photo news bureau in the North Korean capital. She has made dozens of extended reporting trips to North Korea, visiting farms, factories, schools, military academies, and homes in the course of her exclusive reporting across the country.

During Lee's tenure, AP’s coverage of Kim Jong Il’s 2011 death earned an honorable mention in the deadline reporting category of the 2012 Associated Press Media Editors awards for journalism in the United States and Canada. Lee also won an Online Journalism Award in 2013 for her role in using photography, video and social media in North Korea, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in feature reporting in 2013.

Lee is a native of Minneapolis. She has a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies and English from Columbia University and a master's degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She worked as a reporter for the Korea Herald in Seoul, South Korea, before being posted with AP to the news agency's bureaus in Baltimore; Fresno, Calif.; San Francisco; New York; London; Seoul and Pyongyang.

“Jean’s experience with South and North Korea is unparalleled. She will be a new and important voice in Washington’s robust debates about North Korea policy, U.S. relations with its Asian allies, and the broader discussion about strategy toward the Indo-Pacific,” said Wilson Center Asia Program Director Abraham M. Denmark.

The Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy was established with the generous support of the Hyundai Motor Company and the Korea Foundation to provide a coherent, long-term platform to improve understanding of Korea and inform the public policy debate about the Korean peninsula in the United States and beyond. Drawing upon the Wilson Center’s strength as the world’s #1 regional studies think tank, the Korea Center is housed within the Asia Program and partners with the Kissinger Institute, the History and Public Policy Program, and other programs in its work.

Follow the Korea Center & Jean H. Lee on Twitter.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.