n Helie Lee the American mass media found an authentic, telegenic and literate channel for the hellish suffering of North Corea's (Korea's) dispossessed. Lee's second book, In the Absence of the Sun (Harmony, 1998), recounts her experiences in helping relatives make a daring escape from North Corea. The book made Lee a hot enough property to inspire movie talk. At the core of Lee's appeal is her impulsive, adventuresome spirit. "If a door opens," she has said of her philosophy, "be courageous enough to recognize it and walk through it instead of trying to slam it shut and open another door that won't open for you." The scariest door she has walked through is assuming a man's identity in China for six and a half months -- the subject of a documentary in the works.
Helie Lee was born in Seoul on August 29, 1964 and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of five. She graduated from UCLA in 1986, then supported herself by working on In Living Color, Saved By The Bell, the Martin Lawrence Show, among other shows, while laying the groundwork for her acclaimed novel Still Life with Rice (Scribner, 1996).