Joy Yoon and her family are one of only a handful of American families to have ever lived inside North Korea.
With over ten years of experience living and working in the DPRK, she is uniquely qualified to write about life inside the country. From the northeast province to the capital city, Joy has traveled throughout the DPRK and experienced what it means to live in North Korea as a foreigner. Having spent her childhood in South Korea gives her a third-culture perspective and a deeper understanding of the North Korean people. She is known for her cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity and for her passion in bridging the gap between cultures.
She and her husband, Stephen, serve as humanitarian workers in one of the most reclusive and misunderstood nations in the world primarily through medical work. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Biology and certification in Special Education and Educational Therapy, Joy has been able to blend science with education to serve children with developmental disabilities. She has initiated the first Educational Therapy Program for children with cerebral palsy, autism, and learning disabilities in the DPRK through their non-profit organization, IGNIS Community’s, Pyongyang Spine Rehabilitation Center (PYSRC). This is the first specialty center of its kind that trains doctors in this new graduate program while treating children with developmental disabilities.
Stephen and Joy Yoon’s humanitarian work in North Korea has been highlighted in TIME Magazine, Missions Frontiers, Plough, and as well as other publications. Joy has also been featured in podcasts such as the Eric Mataxas Show and Mennonite Central Committee’s podcast on North Korea. Her first official book, “Discovering Joy: Ten years in North Korea” was released on October 26, 2018. She is working on a second book describing the journey of her family’s work and life in North Korea.
Prior to her overseas work, Joy taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District and served as a Youth and Children’s Minister at a Korean church in Los Angeles. She has also taught Biology and English Conversation at Yanbian International Academy, Yanbian University of Science and Technology, and Yanbian University in Yanji, China.
Joy and her husband have five children. She homeschools all five of her children, co-leads IGNIS’ international humanitarian team, and writes in her spare time.