Speaker Spotlight: Hyeonseo Lee: My Escape from North Korea


As a child, Hyeonseo Lee’s family arranged for her to be smuggled out of North Korea, to China, in 1997, to escape famine and oppression. She quickly learned the power of learning foreign language skills when she was placed into custody by Chinese police officers and questioned regarding her citizenship. If determined by Chinese authorities to be an “illegal migrant,” Lee would have been forced back to North Korea, where she and her family would face torture, imprisonment or public execution.

Watch and listen to Hyeonseo Lee describe her escape from North Korea, courtesy of CNN Opinion and Ted.com. Lee even tells of going back into North Korea in an attempt to rescue her family.


The testing industry provides opportunities for people to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, aptitude and abilities through fair and reliable assessment.

Important to Lee’s story is how her success depended on pursuing language skills learning, university entrance examination and job training.

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TED Blog: Read more about Hyeonseo Lee.