Louisa Lim

Beijing Correspondent Louisa Lim is currently attending the University of Michigan as a Knight-Wallace Fellow. She will return to her regular role in 2014.

Based in Beijing, NPR foreign correspondent Louisa Lim finds China a hugely diverse, vibrant, fascinating place. "Everywhere you look and everyone you talk to has a fascinating story," she notes, adding that she's "spoiled with choices" of stories to cover. In her reports, Lim takes "NPR listeners to places they never knew existed. I want to give them an idea of how China is changing and what that might mean for them."

Lim opened NPR's Shanghai bureau in February 2006, but she's reported for NPR from up Tibetan glaciers and down the shaft of a Shaanxi coalmine. She made a very rare reporting trip to North Korea, covered illegal abortions in Guangxi province, and worked on the major multimedia series on religion in China "New Believers: A Religious Revolution in China." Lim has been part of NPR teams who multiple awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a Peabody and two Edward R. Murrow awards, for their coverage of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and the Beijing Olympics. She's been honored in the Human Rights Press Awards, as well as winning prizes for her multimedia work.

In 1995, Lim moved to Hong Kong and worked at the Eastern Express newspaper until its demise six months later and then for TVB Pearl, the local television station. Eventually Lim joined the BBC, working first for five years at the World Service in London, and then as a correspondent at the BBC in Beijing for almost three years.

Lim found her path into journalism after graduating with a degree in Modern Chinese studies from Leeds University in England. She worked as an editor, polisher, and translator at a state-run publishing company in China, a job that helped her strengthen her Chinese. Simultaneously, she began writing for a magazine and soon realized her talents fit perfectly with journalism.

NPR London correspondent Rob Gifford, who previously spent six years reporting from China for NPR, thinks that Lim is uniquely suited for his former post. "Not only does Louisa have a sharp journalistic brain," Gifford says, "but she sees stories from more than one angle, and can often open up a whole new understanding of an issue through her reporting. By listening to Louisa's reports, NPR listeners will certainly get a feel for what 21st century China is like. It is no longer a country of black and white, and the complexity is important, a complexity that you always feel in Louisa's intelligent, nuanced reporting."

Out of all of her reporting, Lim says she most enjoys covering stories that are quirky or slightly offbeat. However, she gravitates towards reporting on arts stories with a deeper significance. For example, early in her tenure at NPR, Lim highlighted a musical on stage in Seoul, South Korea, based on a North Korean prison camp. The play, and Lim's piece, highlighted the ignorance of many South Koreans of the suffering of their northern neighbors.

Married with a son and a daughter, Lim recommends any NPR listeners travelling to Shanghai stop by a branch of her husband's Yunnan restaurant, Southern Barbarian, where they can snack on deep fried bumblebees, a specialty from that part of southwest China. In Beijing, her husband owns and runs what she calls "the first and best fish and chip shop in China", Fish Nation.

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Asia
4:05 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Home Of Noted Beijing Architect Reduced To Rubble

Liang Sicheng, known as the father of modern Chinese architecture, lobbied Mao Zedong to preserve ancient buildings in Beijing. Despite efforts to have his former courtyard home in Beijing preserved as a cultural relic, it was recently demolished.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Wed February 8, 2012 6:09 pm

Down a quiet Beijing alleyway on a recent day, as the winter wind whistles, two men stand guard over a pile of bricks hidden behind a corrugated iron fence.

The pile of rubble was once the home of the man known as the father of modern Chinese architecture, Liang Sicheng. The Orwellian reason for its demolition? "For maintenance," according to a Xinhua news agency report, citing the developer, Fuheng Real Estate company.

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Asia
1:43 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

For China's 'Left-Behind Kids,' A Free Lunch

Students enjoy free meals on the inaugural day of the Free Lunch for Children program at Hujiaying primary school in Shaanxi province's Nanzheng county.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:06 am

For 10-year-old student Xie Xiaoyuan, just getting to school is an ordeal. On a recent day, her frostbitten ears are testament to just how difficult the trip is.

"I get up at five o'clock," she says, "then I comb my hair and start walking."

Xie navigates a mountain path in China's remote Shaanxi province in the dark, trudging through snowstorms and mudslides. Then she has to get a bus for about 10 miles. She hasn't time to eat breakfast.

"For lunch, I spend 15 cents on two pieces of bread and a drink," she says.

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Asia
11:01 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

China Targets Entertainment TV In Cultural Purge

TV show Super Girl Voice, a singing contest show, is recorded at Hunan Satellite TV station in 2006 in Changsha city, Hunan province of China. The show was recently banned as part of a recent entertainment industry crackdown.
Guang Niu Getty Images

Tens of millions of people tune in every week to the Chinese dating show Take Me Out. It's pure entertainment: girls in skimpy dresses hoping for a date; sweaty, geeky guys stammering questions; and two effete hosts sporting matching bouffant hairstyles.

But as of last week, the show was bumped from prime time — part of China's latest clampdown against "excessive entertainment," which is itself a manifestation of a larger ideological campaign.

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Asia
3:29 am
Fri December 23, 2011

With N. Korea In Flux, Neighbors Reassess Policies

South Korean soldiers face a North Korean soldier standing at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on Thursday. North Korea's neighbors are reassessing their policies following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Wally Santana AP

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 9:23 am

The boundary between North Korea and South Korea has been called the world's most dangerous border. But on Thursday, the most dangerous thing about it appeared to be the biting cold and bone-chilling wind, with one Korean soldier jokingly describing the temperature as "hell."

At the Joint Security Area where the actual demarcation line is, half a dozen South Korean soldiers stood at the alert, facing off against one solitary North Korean soldier in khaki. The only unusual sign was the North Korean flag flying at half-staff.

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North Korea In Transition
12:27 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

With Kim's Death, Defectors See Chance For Change

Park Sang-nak, a North Korean defector, displays anti-North Korea leaflets before sending them by balloon into North Korea, at Imjinggak peace park in South Korea near the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas on Wednesday. Defectors from the North are hoping the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il may provide an opportunity for political change.
Yang Hoi-Sung AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 8:09 pm

While North Korean mourners trudged through snow in Pyongyang to pay last respects to their "Dear Leader," defectors from the North now in South Korea are celebrating the sudden death of Kim Jong Il, who died from a heart attack this past weekend.

And as the outside world tries to figure out how much control his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un, has over the nuclear-armed state, the defectors are focusing on trying to kickstart a revolution in North Korea.

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Asia
2:39 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Chinese Property Dispute Becomes A Bitter Showdown

Family members burn funeral offerings for Xue Jinbo on Friday. Xue, 42, was involved in a property dispute that turned into a major confrontation with authorities in the southern Chinese village of Wukan. He died in police custody.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 11:10 pm

What began as a property dispute in the southern Chinese village of Wukan has escalated into an open revolt for the past six days. It's one of the most serious episodes of unrest that the Chinese Communist Party has faced in recent years. The protests were suspended for a while Friday so villagers could mourn the man whose death led villagers to chase police and government officials out of town. The police have sealed off the area, but NPR's Louisa Lim managed to get into Wukan.

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Asia
11:01 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

And You Thought The Tiger Mother Was Tough

Wolf Dad XiaoBaiyou at home, where he drew up more than a thousand rules for his kids. Any transgression earned the kids a beating with a feather duster, either on the legs or on the palm of the hand.
Louisa Lim NPR

Tiger Mother Amy Chua, the super-strict Chinese-American disciplinarian, became an overnight sensation in the U.S. this year when she wrote about her tough parenting style. But she looks like a pussy cat next to her mainland Chinese equivalent, "Wolf Dad" Xiao Baiyou.

Xiao is the latest media sensation in China — a father who not just beat his son and three daughters, but boasts about how he did it.

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Asia
4:04 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Clean Air A 'Luxury' In Beijing's Pollution Zone

Chinese walk to work midday as heavy smog hangs over downtown Beijing.
Stephen Shaver UPI /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 7:37 pm

On the way to school, my kids and I play a guessing game: How polluted is the air today? We use an app linked to the air pollution monitor at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and we try to guess the day's exact level on the Air Quality Index, and whether the air is dangerous.

These days, chances are that it could well be. For more than half of the past 60 days, the air pollution has hit levels hazardous to human health. Experts estimate long-term exposure to such pollution could reduce life expectancy by as much as five years. But I don't tell the kids that.

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Asia
1:52 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

In South Korea, Old Law Leads To New Crackdown

Park Jong-kun's Twitter profile picture — which shows him against a backdrop of the North Korean flag — may violate South Korea's strict National Security Law. The 24-year-old South Korean is also under investigation for retweeting North Korean propaganda.
Courtesy Park Jong-kun

Originally published on Thu December 1, 2011 7:24 pm

Park Jong-kun's Twitter profile picture shows him inspecting a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky against a backdrop of the North Korean flag.

The 24-year-old South Korean photographer thought it would be funny, a visual parody of North Korea's news programs. But it turns out this profile picture could violate South Korea's strict six-decade-old National Security Law, which punishes those who "praise, disseminate or cooperate with anti-state groups" if such acts endanger democracy and national security.

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Asia
4:10 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

From Crushing Poverty To South Korea's Presidency

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (shown here as a young accountant, working for Hyundai's office in Thailand in the early 1960s) overcame a poverty-stricken childhood to become a student activist, successful business executive and, ultimately, leader of his country.
Courtesy of Lee Myung-bak

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 3:29 pm

When Lee Myung-bak was inaugurated as the 10th president of South Korea in February 2008, it was an astonishing outcome for a poor boy from Pohang, whose No. 1 dream had been simply to get a job.

Lee's life journey is a literal rags-to-riches story. He has made a political journey, too, from a student radical imprisoned for his activism to a conservative head of state.

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