Republic of Korea: Hyun-Sook Lee

We have suffered for over half a century. That is too much. We firmly believe it is now time to live together with parents, sisters, brothers, all our families, in a reunited, peaceful Korea.

— Hyun-Sook Lee

Hyun-Sook Lee is the cofounder and former Executive Director of Women Making Peace, an organization established in 1997 with the goal of creating a culture of peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula. She helped open the door between North and South Korea by getting the first humanitarian aid to the North and encouraging the first people-to-people visits. Hyun-Sook is also cofounder of the Korea Women's Hotline, which provides guidance and support to victims of domestic abuse, and which was instrumental in establishing domestic and sexual violence as criminal acts in South Korea.

Hyun-Sook Lee has over 20 years of experience in human rights and peacemaking. One of her earliest efforts was to work with several colleagues at the Korea Christian Academy to initiate a program to raise awareness and eradicate domestic violence in South Korea. The Korea Women's Hotline enabled victims of domestic abuse to receive guidance and support, and it was instrumental in establishing domestic and sexual violence as criminal acts in South Korea. It also served as a catalyst for the progressive women's movement in Korea. In 1997, Hyun-Sook initiated and later became the executive director of Women Making Peace. Its first project was a Sharing Food-Sharing Love campaign for North Korean women and children that resulted in the sending of 26 tons of milk powder to the North, and which laid the foundations for North and South Korean exchanges known as the Sunshine Policy. Since 2001, she has engaged in negotiation activities between the two Koreas. And in October 2002, Hyun-Sook finally succeeded in organizing the "North and South Korean Women’s Reunification Rally for Peace and the Implementation of the June 15th Joint Declaration". For many of the 700 delegates, the opportunity to meet women from the other country in a spirit of peace and tolerance proved to be an extraordinarily emotional experience. In May 2003, Hyun-Sook organized a coalition of bipartisan Korean elected representatives, NGO leaders, and scholars to go to the USA to speak to members of the US Congress and opinion makers on the impact of US withdrawal from engagement with North Korea. In December 2003, Hyun-Sook received the prestigious National Reconciliation Award from the Korean Council of Reconciliation and Cooperation, made up of NGO leaders and members of parliament.

Women Making Peace Council of Unification Education Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict, Northeast Asia Region (GPPAC)