11 Korean American Authors (Most Recognized)

One would go on and on naming writers in the United States, but do not let us forget, not all American authors are originally Americans, some have their origin in other parts of the world. We are not exactly concerning ourselves with that in this piece, as we want to narrow down to just an aspect of it: Korean American authors. 

Without circumlocutions, let us head straight to see some of the top American authors that are also Korean. 

  1. Steph Cha 

Steph Cha is a Korean American author born in Van Nuys, California sometime in 1986. She attended Stanford University and Yale Law School where she got her Juris Doctor degree. 

Top Korean American Authors 

Her writing career focuses on the Crime Fiction genre. She has written several award-winning novels since the beginning of her career, including her 2019 “Your House Will Pay” book which won the LA Times Book award. Steph Cha has also been nominated for a number of other awards including the Barry award and Anthony awards. 

Steph Cha’s Books 

  • Follow Her Home 
  • Dead Soon Enough 
  • Your House Will Pay 
  • Beware Beware 
  • The Best American Mystery and Suspense 
  • Juniper Song 
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 
  1. Helie Lee 

Korean American author and university lecturer Helie Lee is not originally an American. She was born on August 24, 1964 in Seoul, South Korea, but raised in the United States. It happened that her family moved to the country and settled to live in California when she was only five. 

Top Korean American Authors 

If you wish to learn more about Helie Lee, then it may be worth mentioning to you that she has also contributed greatly to Korea as an activist. 

Her two published books: In the Absence of Sun, and Still Life With Rice are doing well and are already attracting nominations. 

  1. Younghill Kang 

Younghill is late already but it is nearly impossible to discuss notable Korean American writers without mentioning his name. He played a significant role as a voice of the people when he could. 

Top Korean American Authors 

The Korean American lecturer and writer is one of the most recognized Asian American authors of all time. According to Wikipedia, Younghill has been called the Father of Korean American literature. His name is popularly heard for the credit it gets for his 1931 novel: “The Grass Roof”.

This legend lived a number of years back. He was born on June 5, 1898 in Honguon, South Hangyong, Korea and died in the United States on December 2, 1971. 

Younghill Kang’s Books 

  • Grass Root
  • East Goes West 
  • The Happy Grove 
  • The Grass Roof and The Yalu Flows 
  1. Eugenia Kim 

Another Korean American author on our list is Eugenia Kim, a writer and an educator born in White Plains, NY, U.S. in 1952. For her degree programs, she attended Bennington College, Central Connecticut State College, and University of Maryland, College Park. 

Top Korean American Authors 

Focusing on the Historical fiction genre, Eugenia is popularly known for her novel The Calligrapher’s Daughter, the book that won her a Borders Original Voices award for fiction in 2019, among others. 

Eugenia Kim’s Books 

  • The Kingship of Secrets 
  • The Calligrapher’s Daughter
  1. Min Jin Lee 

Korean American author and journalist Min Jin Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, on November 11, 1968. Did Helie Lee’s profile come to your mind? It’s what it is. So, yes, when Min Lee was about eight, she moved to the United States with her parents. She grew in the states and studied at Yale University, bagging a Juris Doctor degree at Georgetown University. 

Top Korean American Authors 

When she came of age, Min Jin met half-Japanese Christopher Duffy, together with whom they had their child, Sam. This didn’t seem to affect her passion for writing in any way as she’s always been a writer of award deserving books. Yeah, among other awards, she received the Bronx Science Atom award in 2023. 

Min Jin now stays in Harlem, New York City, United States, as a happily married woman and an impactful writer. 

Books by Min Jin Lee

Following are some of Min Jin Lee’s published books. 

  • Free Food for Millionaires 
  • Pachinko 
  • Han: Roman 
  • The Best American Short Stories 
  • Pachinko – cover baru 
  1. Nora Okja Keller 

Author Nora Okja Keller was born on December 22, 1966 in South Korea. She became known as a writer after the publication of her work Comfort Woman, an interesting work arousing empathy— one that discusses how Korean women were taken for s£x slaves. 

Top Korean American Authors 

Books by Okja Keller

  • Comfort Woman 
  • Fox Girl 
  1. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha 

Theresa is another Korean American author making it to our list despite being late. Theresa Cha was born on 4th March, 1951 in Busan, South Korea and was murdered on the 5th November, 1982 in New York, United States. Her murder came from a Mr Joey Sanza who raped and bludgeoned the author to death. 

Top Korean American Authors 

With regards to her career, Theresa was a successful artist; she was a director, producer, and novelist with several accolades. She was especially known for Dictée, her 1982 novel (published one or so week before her death). Her success as an artist was particularly fueled by her ability to speak more than two languages including French. 

Before her death, she had been educated at the University of San Francisco and at the University of California, Berkeley. She was married to Richard Barnes until her death put them apart in 1982. 

Books by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha 

  • The Dream of the Audience 
  • The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 
  • Exilée and Temps Morts 
  • Dictée
  1. Leonard Chang 

The internet does not know so much about the early life of this author, not even his date of birth is certain, but he is another Korean American author to talk about for his great works. 

Top Korean American Authors 

Leonard Chang, born in Harlem, New York and raised on Long Island is a writer of quite many novels and short stories. He is a writer of various forms and genres; a screenwriter and more. 

The writer studied philosophy at Dartmouth College and went to Harvard University in furtherance of his studies in the field. Over the years, he has worked with several organizations, one of which is NBC. 

Books by Leonard Chang 

Some of the books we have seen Leonard Chang published so far include: 

  • Crossings 
  • Underkill 
  • The Lockpickers 
  • Triplines 
  • Over the Shoulder
  • The Fruit ‘n Food 
  • Fade to Clear 
  • Dispatches from the Cold 
  1. Linda Sue Park 

Although it was gathered that she has started writing since she was four, 63-year-old Korean American author Linda Sue published her first book Seesaw Girl in 1999, when she was about 39. Before this time, some of her works including poems and short stories have been published in magazines and papers alike. 

Top Korean American Authors 

Growing up, Linda decided to focus on writing children’s books and has contributed greatly to that aspect. Her works have earned her a number of awards, including the 2022 Newberry Medal. 

Linda Sue Park’s Books 

  • Prairie Lotus 
  • A Single Shard 
  • A Long Walk to Water 
  • Archer’s Quest 
  • Keeping Score 
  • Kite Fighters 
  • Seesaw Girl 
  • When My Name Was Keoko 
  • Project Mulberry 
  1. Alexander Chee 

Alexander was born on August 21, 1967 in Rhode Island, U.S. and he was raised in South Korea, Kauai, Truck, Guam and Maine. 

Top Korean American Authors 

As for his education, Alexander Chee attended Wesleyan University. 

Alexander Chee’s Books 

  • Edinburgh: Roman 
  • The Queen of the Night 
  • How to Write an Autobiographical Novel 

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  1. Sun Yung Shin 

Korean American poet, writer, consultant, and educator was born in South Korea in 1974. Being a Korean originally, she didn’t acquire citizenship in the United States by birth, so the case for her was adoption. She was adopted by a white couple in Chicago as a 13-month-old child. 

Top Korean American Authors 

Her adopters raised her in America and saw to it that she got educated. Yung bagged a degree in English at Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota. She proceeded to being a writer and has won herself many awards and accolades over the years. In 2003, for instance, her book of poems Skirt Full of Black earned her the Asian American Literary Award.

While she continues with her career, Sun Yung Shin stays in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States. 

Books by Sun Yung Shin

  • A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota 
  • Unbearable Splendor 
  • The Wet Hex 
  • Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption 
  • Cooper’s Lesson 
  • Skirt Full of Black 
  • Where We Come From 
  • When We Become Ours 
  • The Beautiful: Poets Reimagine a Nation 
  • Rough, and Savage: Poems 

Other Korean American Authors

Kim Sunée 

Don Lee 

Elaine H. Kim 

Chang-Rae Lee 

Myung Mi Kim 

Richard E. Kim 

Spoke Nyul Choi 

Walter K. Lew 

Daniel Chun 

Nami Mun 

We have not offered you a complete list of all Korean American authors that there are, but this composition has seen to what you need to know. Our list encompasses a majority of the top Korean American authors. 

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