Angry Reader of the Week: Helena Ku Rhee

"I write books for kids and the young at heart."

Greetings, good people of the internet. It's that time again. Allow me to introduce you to the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Helena Ku Rhee.

Who are you?

Hello! I'm Helena Ku Rhee.

What are you?

An author of children's books. A Korean American who cannot go a week without having some delicious Korean food. A lover of stout yet athletic animals, such as the black rhino and the guy pictured above (my dog Sherwin... though it's more accurate to say I'm his human Helena).

Where are you?

I'm in Los Angeles. I used to hate L.A. while growing up here (The traffic! It's dirty! The smog!). I dreamed of living in S.F. or the East Coast or Paris. Well, I later lived in those places, and realized that I really do love L.A. (The food! The people! The arts! The beaches! The hiking trails! The list goes on and on.)

Where are you from?

My story begins in a humble seaside village in South Korea, where I was born.

What do you do?

I write books for kids and the young at heart. My debut picture book, The Turtle Ship, launched on June 5. It's loosely based on Korean history and it's about dreaming BIG. It's about a boy who is inspired by his pet turtle to enter a national contest, which leads to the creation of Korea's amazing turtle ship, the first ironclad ship in the world. I've always loved picture books as an art form -- the synergy between the text and artwork is fascinating. My book is illustrated entirely with paper collage by artist Colleen Kong-Savage. I can't imagine how many hours Colleen spent to fashion the teeny tiny leaves and clothing details. If you're in NYC on June 24, join us at our book launch party! Details are here: http://helenakrhee.com/books/

I also work full-time at a movie studio, and what's really cool is that about 90% of my coworkers have a passion they're pursuing on top of their day job -- whether it's writing or performing or teaching surf on the weekends.

What are you all about?

I'm all about stories and adventure and travel. Traveling ignites my imagination, so I often get book ideas while on the move. My favorite journeys include a camping trip in the Sahara Desert, a swim with elephants in Thailand and a horseback-riding tour of Easter Island. The Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania is incredible, as is the lagoon of Bora Bora in French Polynesia -- both are teeming with colorful wildlife. And of course, the usual suspects are famous because they deserve to be: Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines in Peru. We're very, very lucky to be earthlings because this planet is full of beauty. Let's keep it that way!

People ask how I manage to travel to all these places, and it's truly about what you prioritize. Traveling is one of my passions, so I make it a top priority and it's been a priority of mine for a long time. Travel doesn't have to be expensive, especially if you choose a location off the beaten path.

What makes you angry?

Right at this moment, the loss of Anthony Bourdain makes me angry. Angry and very, very sad. I lost one of my high school best friends to depression and suicide, so Bourdain's death triggered all kinds of emotions. Like many, I considered him a friend though I'd never met him. Bourdain singlehandedly influenced me and my husband to go to Vietnam several years ago, where we rode scooters in Hanoi and ate street food and toasted to Bourdain's influential powers. Let's all carry on his legacy of adventurousness, curiosity and indignation at injustice.

And throughout my life, what has always boiled my blood is the exploitation of children and cruelty to animals.

I don't want to end on a negative tone, so one fun tidbit is that I included Sherwin in the photo above because he looks angrier than I do. But he's a total clown.

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