Lee Ae-ran

North Korean activist

Lee Ae-ran (Hangul = 이애란; Revised Romanization = I Aeran; McCune–Reischauer = Ri Aeran) (born 1964) is a South Korean activist. In 2010 she received the International Women of Courage Award.[1]

Lee Ae-ran in 2010

Lee's grandparents left North Korea to go to South Korea. The government of North Korea sent Lee and her family to a labor camp. She was in jail for eight years.[2] In 1997, a family member in America wrote a book. The book said Lee's father worked against North Korea, so Lee ran away to South Korea.

Lee studied the subject of food and nutrition at Ewha Womans University. In 2009, she received a PhD.[3]

In 2005, Lee started the Global Leadership Scholarship Program. The program gives scholarships to students from North Korea to learn English.[4]

In 2008, Lee ran for a seat in the National Assembly. She was the first North Korean defector to do this.[5]

In 2009, Lee started the Hana Defector Women's Organization. The NGO helps North Korean women who live in South Korea. The women receive job training, childcare, help with education, and human rights training.[4]

Lee became the head of the North Korean Traditional Food Institute in 2012. The institute tries to bring North and South Korea closer together. It gives vocational training to North Korean defectors. It also teaches about the food traditions of Pyongyang.[3]

Also in 2012, Lee led an 18-day hunger strike in front of the Chinese embassy. Lee protested against China, because they wanted to send North Korean refugees back to North Korea.[3]



Lee received a 2010 International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State.[6]


  1. "2010 International Women of Courage Award".
  2. "Lee Ae-ran Helps North Koreans Build a Brighter Future | IIP Digital". iipdigital.ait.org.tw. Archived from the original on 2014-09-05. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "In the News – North Korean defectors emerge from periphery | MOU OneKorea". mouonekorea.wordpress.com. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Episcopal News Service – DIOCESAN DIGEST". archive.episcopalchurch.org. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  5. Gelezeau, Valerie; Ceuster, Koen De; Delissen, Alain (2013). De-Bordering Korea: Tangible and Intangible Legacies of the Sunshine Policy. Taylor & Francis. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-136-19253-1. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  6. "Dr. Lee Ae-ran, Republic of Korea". state.gov. Retrieved 2014-10-05.

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