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.[citation needed]

Biography and work

Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea and emigrated to the United States with her family at thirteen, moving to the outer boroughs of New York City. Kim is a naturalized American citizen.

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.[1] The book received positive critic reviews[2] 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 visited North Korea in February, 2002, to participate in the 60th Birthday Celebration of Kim Jong-il and wrote a cover essay for The New York Review of Books[3]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] Her publisher subsequently removed "memoir" from the cover of Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite.

Kim is a contributing editor at The New Republic. In March 2016, Kim profiled the GOP candidate Marco Rubio during his 2016 Presidential campaign for the magazine.[8]


Essays and op-eds

  • "The Good Student in North Korea", The New York Times Magazine, October 31, 2014
  • "The Dear Leader's Heinous Act" The New York Times, Op Ed, December 17, 2013
  • "The Shared Wound in Korea", The New York Times, Op Ed, February 13, 2013
  • "Forced from Home and Yet Never Free of it" The New York Times, December 3, 2010
  • "Notes from Another Credit Card Crisis", The New York Times, Op Ed, March 18, 2009
  • "Globalizing Grief", The Wall Street Journal, Op Ed, April 24, 2008
  • "Great Leadership", The Wall Street Journal, Op Ed, October 16, 2007
  • "Asia's Apostles", The Washington Post, Op Ed, July 25, 2007
  • "Our Affair Was One Long Lesson in How to Break Up", The New York Times, September 24, 2006
  • "Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl's Habits", The New York Times, November 21, 2004
  • "Marriage of Inconvenience?", The New York Times, June 22, 2003
  • "Korea's New Wave", The New York Times, Op Ed, March 10, 2003
  • "Translating Poverty and Pain", The New York Times, March 2, 2003



See also


  1. ^ Kim, Suki (March 2, 2003). "NEW YORK OBSERVED: Translating Poverty and Pain". The New York Times. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ Yoon, Cindy. "Suki Kim and 'The Interpreter'". Asia Society. 
  3. ^ Kim, Suki (February 13, 2003). "A Visit to North Korea". The New York Review of Books. 
  4. ^ Szalai, Jennifer (December 3, 2008). "Talking with Suki Kim". Harper's Magazine. 
  5. ^ "Suki Kim: 'Without You, There Is No Us'". The Diane Rehm Show. October 15, 2014. 
  6. ^ Gladstone, Rick (November 30, 2014). "Tales Told Out of School in Pyongyang Cause Stir". The New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 
  7. ^ Kim, Suki (June 27, 2016). "The Reluctant Memoirist". The New Republic. 
  8. ^ Kim, Suki (March 6, 2016). "Mr. Rubio's Neighborhood". The New Republic. 

External links