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Inspiring Leadership Forum 2021: Virtual Edition, presented by TD Speaker Spotlight on Suki Kim

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: January 20, 2021 5:55 a.m.

Journalist and Award-winning Author Suki Kim is a keynote speaker at the 2021 event.
Journalist and Award-winning Author Suki Kim is a keynote speaker at the 2021 event. Photo provided by Suki Kim

On Wednesday, March 3, journalist and award-winning author Suki Kim will share her story in her keynote presentation at the Inspiring Leadership Forum 2021: Virtual Edition, presented by TD. Kim is the only writer ever to have lived undercover in North Korea for immersive journalism, and her experiences reveal the realities of what it’s like to live in a world where everything is closely monitored and controlled. 

The theme for this year’s event is “The Courage Within”, with each of the keynote speakers embodying the theme. Kim identifies her decision to become a writer as one of the most courageous things she has done in her life. At the age of 13, Kim and her family moved from South Korea to the United States. Looking back at her experience living in a new country and learning a new language at such a young age, Kim believes that her determination to become a writer led her to where she is today.   

“If we look at what courage is, it’s doing something despite the fact that you are afraid,” says Kim. I can look back to my choice and I know that I stuck with what was my life passion.” 

In her book Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, Kim takes readers through the time she spent teaching the sons of North Korea’s most privileged. Working undercover as a Christian missionary, Kim spent her days at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology locked in what she calls the school’s “prison disguised as a campus,” secretly recording everything she experienced. Kim had unprecedented access to a side of North Korean culture most foreigners never get to see, and her insights about the country’s culture are as urgent as they are unsettling. The U of R Need to Read Alumni & Friends Online Book Club is currently reading the book for the winter session. 

When discussing her writing process for Without You, There Is No Us, Kim reflects on writing in secret while working at Pyongyang University. 

“Because I was writing the book while undercover, I couldn’t just be writing things down,” says Kim. “I would do my writing within another document, and save it on a USB stick which I would keep on me at all times. I ended up leaving with about 400 pages of notes, which I then compiled into the book.” 

Individual tickets for the event are $75, with 100 per cent of the proceeds supporting the Inspiring Leadership Academic Entrance Award, a brand new, four-year $30,000 scholarship at the U of R. This undergraduate scholarship recognizes students who, through their commitment to academic success, volunteer activities, and community leadership, have demonstrated the potential to lead. 

Tickets can be purchased online on the Inspiring Leadership Forum website

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Registration is now open for the Inspiring Leadership Forum 2021: Virtual Edition, presented by TD.

 

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