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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The Two-Way
7:28 am
Wed May 13, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 8:22 am

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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Parallels
1:21 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 7:10 pm

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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Parallels
4:05 am
Mon May 11, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 9:40 am

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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All Tech Considered
2:54 am
Thu May 7, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 8:07 am

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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The Two-Way
5:12 am
Tue May 5, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 8:45 pm

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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Parallels
2:51 am
Tue April 28, 2015

The Past Haunts The Present For Japan's Shinzo Abe

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

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 1:17 pm

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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The Two-Way
8:20 am
Sat April 18, 2015

Heavy Police Presence At Ferry Demonstrations Bring Seoul To A Halt

Riot police at the entrance to a subway station in central Seoul.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 12:08 pm

A weekend of planned vigils and marches to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Sewol ferry sinking in South Korea has turned into tense clashes between demonstrators and police.

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Parallels
10:38 am
Wed April 15, 2015

A Year After Ferry Disaster, South Koreans Await Answers

Relatives of victims of the Sewol ferry accident stand before a banner featuring victim photos during a protest. More than 300 people, most of them high school students, died in the accident. Nine people remain missing.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 4:39 am

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Parallels
2:34 am
Wed April 15, 2015

The All-Work, No-Play Culture Of South Korean Education

Students take the annual College Scholastic Ability Test, or college entrance exam, at a high school in Seoul last November. Students face enormous pressure to do well on the test and get into a top university. Airplanes are grounded on the day of the test so they won't disturb the students.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 2:39 pm

In South Korea, grim stories of teen suicide come at a regular clip. Recently, two 16-year-old girls in the city of Daejeon jumped to their deaths, leaving a note saying, "We hate school."

It's just one tragedy in a country where suicide is the leading cause of death among teens, and 11- to 15-year-olds report the highest amount of stress out of 30 developed nations.

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Code Switch
3:14 am
Tue April 14, 2015

How Asian-Americans Found A Home In The World Of K-Pop

Asian music hitmaker Jae Chong, at work in a studio in Seoul. His work is all over Asian charts, but his passport is American.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 7:33 am

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Parallels
11:22 am
Fri April 10, 2015

A Forgotten Generation: Half Of South Korea's Elderly Live In Poverty

Koreans — many of them elderly — line up to receive 500 won, or about 50 cents, from Shin Banpo Church in southern Seoul. Each week, organizers say, a few hundred seniors show up at each church that offers the service, and the line starts hours in advance.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 11:50 pm

South Korea may be known for its high-tech advances, luxury skin care products and rapid economic rise, but these days, the generation largely responsible for all that growth isn't faring so well. South Korea has the worst senior poverty rate among developed nations, and the options for seniors are slim.

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Parallels
8:37 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Pew: Japan And U.S. Respect Each Other And Distrust China

Responses when Japanese were asked, "Which of these characteristics do you associate with American people?"
Pew Research Center

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 5:55 pm

This year, the U.S. and Japan mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, a bitter time that left deep wounds. In the 1980s, Japan and U.S. were at times economic adversaries, caught up in bilateral trade disputes.

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The Salt
2:36 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Koreans Have An Insatiable Appetite For Watching Strangers Binge Eat

Rachel Ahn, who goes by "Aebong-ee," is among the top 100 most-watched mukbang stars in South Korea.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 6:26 pm

Move over, cooking shows. In Korea, the big food fad is eating shows, or mukbang. Korean viewers are so glued to watching strangers binge eating that the live-streamers consuming calories in front of webcams are becoming minor celebrities in Korean culture.

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Parallels
8:50 am
Thu March 19, 2015

A Chinese Tourism Boom Has South Koreans Cramming

Language instructor Soh Bor-am teaches eight Mandarin classes a day, as Chinese tourism to South Korea swells.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 2:02 pm

Perhaps nowhere is the growth of the Chinese middle-class more visible than at top tourist destinations, which these days are teeming with Chinese travelers. The Chinese are traveling abroad in numbers never seen before, and it's felt strongly in South Korea, which finds itself scrambling to keep up with an estimated 4 million Chinese tourists a year.

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All Tech Considered
3:55 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Anthem Hack Renews Calls For Laws To Better Prevent Breaches

Anthem says 80 million company records were accessed in what may be one of the largest health care data breaches to date.
Aaron P. Bernstein Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 1:46 pm

The call for more systemic changes to prevent mega-hacks is getting louder after hackers hit Anthem, the nation's second-largest health insurer. The company says cyberthieves gained access to the addresses, employment information and Social Security numbers of 80 million customers and employees.

Eighty million individuals is a lot — it's roughly the populations of California, Texas and Illinois combined.

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