Suki Kim is a Korean American writer, a Guggenheim fellow and the author of the award-winning novel The Interpreter and a New York Times Bestselling literary nonfiction, Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite. Kim is the only writer ever to have lived undercover in North Korea for immersive journalism.
Kim graduated from Barnard College with a BA in English and a minor in East Asian Literature. Kim also lived in London for several years, studying Korean literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She received a Fulbright Research Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Open Society Foundations Fellowship.
Her debut novel, The Interpreter, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, is a murder mystery about a young Korean-American woman, Suzy Park, living in New York City and searching for answers as to why her shopkeeper parents were murdered. Kim took a short term job as an interpreter in New York City when working on the novel to look into the life of an interpreter. The book received positive critic reviews and won the PEN Beyond Margins Award and the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award and was a finalist for a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. The Interpreter was translated into Dutch, French, Korean, Italian, and Japanese.
Kim accompanied the New York Philharmonic in February, 2008, when they traveled to Pyongyang for the historical cultural visit to North Korea from the United States. Her article, “A Really Big Show: The New York Philharmonic’s fantasia in North Korea,” was published in Harper's Magazine in December, 2008.
Her second book, Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite, is a work of literary nonfiction about her six months undercover in North Korea, teaching English to the future leaders of the country at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. The book sheds a new light on the understanding of the North Korean society by delving into its day-to-day life and provides unprecedented insights into the psychology of its ruling class, about whom the world knows very little.
To promote the book, Kim appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on December 10, 2014. Her 2015 TED Talk, "What It's Like To Go Undercover in North Korea", received a standing ovation from its audience including Bill Gates and Al Gore, and has since drawn millions of viewers online.
The book has resulted in some controversy, with reviewers saying that Kim potentially brought harm on the students she wrote about, and has caused tensions between the school and the North Korean government. In June, 2016, Kim confronted her critics in an essay in The New Republic. In the essay, she takes on racism and sexism in publishing and examines the "systematic undermining of her expertise" and the misbranding of her investigative literary journalism book as a memoir. Her publisher subsequently removed "memoir" from the cover of Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Suki Kim.|