Krys Lee: becoming North Korean and entering ‘elsewhere’


Born in South Korea, raised in America, educated in England and equally comfortable speaking Korean or English, novelist Krys Lee has trouble pinpointing her “home.” She is now based in Seoul, where her world is “intimate yet alienated,” but when she returns to her old lives in the U.K. and U.S. — places that “should be immediately close to me” — she feels no different.

“I return feeling more a prodigal son (or daughter) who no longer knows what home is,” she says.

The idea of home is a complicated one for Lee, and she examines and reexamines it through her writing. It’s a theme that runs through the recently published, critically acclaimed “How I Became a North Korean,” a haunting, aching novel about three characters — two of them North Korean and one Korean-American — who are stuck in China waiting to travel to South Korea. Read more