Jean Lee

Jean Lee

Senior Fellow of Hyundai Motor – Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy and Co-Host of BBC’s Lazarus Heist Podcast

Jean H. Lee is a veteran foreign correspondent and expert on North Korea who co-hosts the Peabody-nominated Lazarus Heist podcast for the BBC World Service.

As a correspondent for the Associated Press, Lee led the news agency’s coverage of the Korean Peninsula as bureau chief from 2008 to 2013. In 2011, she 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. news bureau in the North Korean capital. She made dozens of extended reporting trips to North Korea, visiting farms, factories, schools, military academies and homes in the course of her exclusive, award-winning reporting across the country from 2008 to 2017.

Before being posted to Seoul and Pyongyang, Lee covered Europe and Africa from London and the United Nations from New York for AP. She worked as a reporter at AP’s bureaus in San Francisco, Fresno and Baltimore. She also worked as a features reporter for the Korea Herald in Seoul.

After AP, Lee joined the Wilson Center as a scholar in 2015 and served as director of the Korea Center from 2018 to 2021, and currently serves as a public policy fellow. In 2021, she co-hosted the BBC’s award-winning first season of the Lazarus Heist podcast about North Korean cyber. Season 2 launches in fall 2022.

Lee has served as a CNN contributor and has published commentary and feature stories for The New York Times, Esquire magazine, NPR, PRI, BBC, NBC News and PBS Newshour and others. She also appears in the National Geographic series “Inside North Korea” as well PBS’ “Dictator’s Playbook” and Netflix’s “How to Become a Tyrant.” She is a member of the National Committee on North Korea, the Council of Korean Americans, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Pacific Council. She served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on the Korean Peninsula.

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.