Elise Hu

Elise Hu is an award-winning correspondent assigned to NPR's newest international bureau, in Seoul, South Korea. She's responsible for covering geopolitics, business and life in both Koreas and Japan. She previously covered the intersection of technology and culture for the network's on-air, online and multimedia platforms.

Hu joined NPR in 2011 to coordinate the digital development and editorial vision for the StateImpact network, a state government reporting project focused on member stations.

Before joining NPR, she was one of the founding reporters at The Texas Tribune, a non-profit digital news startup devoted to politics and public policy. While at the Tribune, Hu oversaw television partnerships and multimedia projects; contributed to The New York Times' expanded Texas coverage and pushed for editorial innovation across platforms.

An honors graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Journalism, she previously worked as the state political reporter for KVUE-TV in Austin, WYFF-TV in Greenville, SC, and reported from Asia for the Taipei Times.

Her work has earned a Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism, a National Edward R. Murrow award for best online video, beat reporting awards from the Texas Associated Press and The Austin Chronicle once dubiously named her the "Best TV Reporter Who Can Write."

Outside of work, Hu has taught digital journalism at Northwestern University and Georgetown University's journalism schools and serves as a guest co-host for TWIT.tv's program, Tech News Today. She's also an adviser to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where she keeps up with emerging media and technology as a panelist for the Knight News Challenge.

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5:34am

Sun May 24, 2015
The Two-Way

Controversy Follows As Activists Cross North-South Korean Border

Originally published on Tue May 26, 2015 10:53 am

Gloria Steinem and South Korean peace activists march along a military fence at a checkpoint after crossing the border separating North and South Korea.
Jung Yeon-Je AFP/Getty Images

The much-publicized peace walk across the inter-Korean border was really a bus ride. South Korean immigration officials insisted that a group of 30 international women, including American feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem and two Nobel Prize laureates, take a ride across the border for their own safety.

Still, Steinem said, just getting agreement to cross at all — from two nations still technically at war — counts as a win.

"It was an enormous, enormous triumph," Steinem said, after crossing into the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone.

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4:01am

Fri May 22, 2015
The Two-Way

Korean Air 'Nut Rage' Executive Freed From Prison

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 2:50 pm

Former Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-Ah, after being released by a Seoul appeals court.
Jung Yeon-je AFP/Getty Images

Former Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-ah, or Heather Cho, is out of prison after a four-month stay. If her name and alias don't ring a bell for you, the reason why she was jailed might.

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3:47am

Mon May 18, 2015
The Two-Way

In Seoul, Kerry Calls N. Korea Provocations 'Egregious,' 'Reckless'

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 10:52 am

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hold a joint news conference following meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Given the always-present tensions in this region, it's no surprise that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Seoul on Monday was all about security.

"We are not seeking conflict, we are seeking a peaceful resolution of the differences that still exist after so many years on the peninsula," Kerry said.

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4:56pm

Thu May 14, 2015
All Tech Considered

She's Almost Real: The New Humanoid On Customer Service Duty In Tokyo

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 4:15 pm

Shoppers view and take photographs of humanoid robot "Chihira" at the information reception desk of Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo.
Chris McGrath Getty Images

The latest robot sensation in Japan is so lifelike that when she was on the floor of a Tokyo department store recently, she was confused for a human being. The new humanoid's name is Aiko Chihira, and she was working in customer service, clad in a traditional silk kimono.

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8:25am

Wed May 13, 2015
The Two-Way

Spy Agency: North Korea Executes Its Defense Chief With Anti-Aircraft Guns

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 9:22 am

A man watches a television showing news coverage of the reported execution of North Korea's defense minister, Hyon Yong Chol, at a railway station in Seoul on Wednesday.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Just days after grabbing international attention for reportedly testing a submarine-fired ballistic missile, North Korea executed its defense chief on the order of dictator Kim Jong Un. That's according to South Korea's spy agency, which briefed Seoul's lawmakers on the development Wednesday.

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2:21pm

Mon May 11, 2015
Parallels

The First Place In East Asia To Welcome Same-Sex Marriage

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 8:10 pm

Yae and Ren were married during Tokyo's Rainbow Pride Weekend in April. One Tokyo ward, or neighborhood, has recognized same-sex marriages, becoming the first place in Japan — or anywhere in East Asia — to do so.
Elise Hu NPR

Over Tokyo's Rainbow Pride Weekend in late April, Ren married her partner of four years, Yae, on stage before hundreds of Japanese strangers. They were proud to tie the knot and be part of a milestone in Japan and East Asia, a region where same-sex partnerships have never previously been recognized.

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5:05am

Mon May 11, 2015
Parallels

South Korea's Single Moms Struggle To Remove A Social Stigma

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 10:40 am

On Sunday, about 70 marchers gathered at Seoul's City Hall Square to raise attention for South Korea's single moms. The annual event is in its fifth year.
Elise Hu NPR

Monday marks a different kind of Mother's Day in South Korea. It's Single Mother's Day, an effort by civic groups to raise awareness of Korean society's unwed moms.

Despite Korea's rapid economic advancement, the country has yet to catch up to the notion of nontraditional families. Single moms are still forced into the shadows of society — ostracized by family members, discriminated against at work and all the while, trying to raise children without a network of support.

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3:54am

Thu May 7, 2015
All Tech Considered

A Startup Scene That's Not So Hot: Japan's Entrepreneur Shortage

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 9:07 am

At Slush Asia, a new tech festival held in Tokyo in late April, the scene and the energy resembled a small-scale South by Southwest Interactive.
Elise Hu NPR

Toshiba. Sony. Sharp. You know those brand names because they dominated the Japanese economy's global rise in the '80s. But that was 30 years ago. As the Japanese economy stagnates, it's unclear which new companies will replace them.

Doga Makiura is Japanese, and a startup founder. But he's not a startup founder in Japan. He created businesses in other Asian countries instead.

Why not be an entrepreneur in his native country?

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6:12am

Tue May 5, 2015
The Two-Way

NYU Student Detained In North Korea Was Hoping For 'Great Event'

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 9:45 pm

A screen grab from Joo Won-moon's interview with CNN from Pyongyang on Tuesday.
CNN

New York University student Joo Won-moon, who's a South Korean citizen, says he's healthy and being treated well in North Korean custody, according to an interview he gave CNN on Tuesday.

Joo, 21, acknowledged he crossed the border into North Korea illegally, out of hopes for a "great event" to help strengthen ties between diplomatic rivals North and South Korea.

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3:51am

Tue April 28, 2015
Parallels

The Past Haunts The Present For Japan's Shinzo Abe

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 2:17 pm

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Boston on Monday.
Dominick Reuter AFP/Getty Images

As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tours the U.S. this week, he has a state dinner at the White House and will be the first Japanese prime minister to address a joint meeting of Congress. But while he prepares to lay out a vision for the future, not all is well in his own East Asian neighborhood, where the past remains a huge source of tension.

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