Hyun-Sook Kim Lee of South Korea
Currently the executive director of the Women's Forum for Peace and Diplomacy, Lee was raised in post-World War II Korea in a Confucian society marked by extreme poverty, heightened tension and militarization due to the political division between the North and South. As a student at the Hanshin Theological Seminary, Lee studied globally conscious theology which focused on politics and international affairs. She is the youngest member of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Reunification and the chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the Reunification Ministry.
Through her work as chief of the Women's Desk at the Korea Christian Academy, Lee, in collaboration with her colleagues, was responsible for initiating a program aimed at raising awareness and eradicating domestic violence in South Korea. The Korea Women's Hotline provides guidance and support to victims of domestic violence and has served as a catalyst for the progressive women's movement in Korea. The hotline was instrumental in establishing domestic and sexual violence as criminal acts in South Korea.
As co-founder and former executive director of Women Making Peace, an NGO established in 1997, with the goal of creating a culture of peace on the Korean peninsula, Lee has helped to open the door between the two Koreas by getting humanitarian aid to the North and encouraging the first people-to-people visits. Women Making Peace is a multi-dimensional organization that views gender equality, demilitarization, denuclearization, respect for human rights and the eventual reunification of North and South Korea as several of the necessary steps to making peace a reality. In the 10 years since its inception, Women Making Peace has forged new ground by bringing peace, gender and reunification issues to the forefront of Korean society.
Lee served until 2008 as the vice president of the Korean Red Cross, where she engaged in humanitarian activities, which included her participation in the reunion of separated families across the divide of the peninsula. Inspired by her time at the IPJ, Lee recently initiated a 1325 Peace Club, which works toward implementing in Korea the agreed-upon commitments as outlined by the U.N. Security Council Resolution. The 1325 Peace Club activities also include visits to training centers for defectors from North Korea, of which approximately 70 percent are women, and the submission of recommendations to the minister of unification and related officials on appropriate measures for the successful resettlement of women. Lee has received the prestigious National Reconciliation Award from the Korean Council of Reconciliation and Cooperation, made up of leaders from NGOs and government, and a National Decoration from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
Lee was a Woman PeaceMaker in 2003.