Harlem’s Min Jin Lee, Award Winning Writer And Journalist

July 10, 2024

Min Jin Lee, born November 11, 1968, is the author of the novels Free Food for Millionaires (2007) and Pachinko (2017).

She was a finalist for the National Book Award, and runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

She is a Korean American author and journalist based in Harlem, New York; her work frequently deals with the Korean diaspora.


Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her family came to the United States in 1976, when she was seven years old, and she grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, in New York City. Her parents owned a wholesale jewelry store on 30th Street and Broadway in Koreatown, Manhattan. As a new immigrant, she spent much time at the Queens Public Library, where she learned to read and write.

After attending the Bronx High School of Science, Lee studied history and was a resident of Trumbull at Yale College in Connecticut. While at Yale she attended her first writing workshop, as part of a non-fiction writing class she had signed up for in her junior year. 

She also studied law at Georgetown University Law Center, later working as a corporate lawyer in New York from 1993 to 1995. She quit law due to the extreme working hours and her chronic liver disease, deciding to focus on her writing instead. Lee has since recovered from her liver disease.

From 2007-2011, Lee lived in Tokyo, Japan. She now resides in Harlem, with her son, Sam, and her husband, Christopher Duffy, who is half-Japanese.

In 2018, Lee said that the works that most influence her as a writer are Middlemarch by George Eliot, Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac, and the Bible.

For three consecutive seasons, Lee was an English-language columnist of South Korea’s newspaper Chosun Ilbos “Morning Forum” feature.

Lee has lectured about writing, literature, and politics at Amherst College, Boston College, Boston University, Center for Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University in Harlem, University of Connecticut, Ewha University, Hamilton College, Harvard Law School, Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Loyola Marymount University, Center for International Studies at MIT, Stanford University, Tufts University, the Newcomb Institute at Tulane University, Waseda University, and Yale University, She has also spoken at the American School in Japan, World Women’s Forum, the Tokyo American Center of the U.S. Embassy, and the Asia Society in New York, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. She is the writer-in-residence at Amherst College in Massachusetts, but is currently on a leave of absence for the 2023-24 academic year.

Personal life

Lee is the cousin of actress Kim Hye-eun, who starred in the drama Twenty-Five Twenty-One.

Photo credit: Source.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Harlem World Magazine, 2521 1/2 west 42nd street, Los Angeles, CA, 90008, https://www.harlemworldmagazine.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
We're your source for local coverage, we count on your support. SUPPORT US!
Your support is crucial in maintaining a healthy democracy and quality journalism. With your contribution, we can continue to provide engaging news and free access to all.
accepted credit cards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles