Joanne Lee Molinaro
Joanne Lee

(1979-04-24) April 24, 1979 (age 44)
Other namesThe Korean Vegan
Alma materUniversity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (BA)
University of Chicago (JD)
  • Attorney
  • Vegan food blogger
  • author
  • social media influencer
Anthony Molinaro
(m. 2018)
YouTube information
ChannelsThe Korean Vegan
Subscribers786 thousand
Total views220.76 million
100,000 subscribers2021[1]

Last updated: 13 Jul 2022

Joanne Lee Molinaro (born April 24, 1979) is an American attorney, and vegan author and blogger. Widely known as the Korean Vegan, Molinaro started her food blog in 2016, and began posting videos of her cooking and life stories in 2017. As of June 2023, she has over 1 million subscribers on YouTube and 3 million followers on TikTok.

Early life, education, and career

Joanne Lee was born on April 24, 1979, in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were born in present-day North Korea, and escaped when they were young.[2] She was raised in Skokie, Illinois,[3] and has a younger brother named Jaesun.[4] She earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,[5] and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.[6]


Molinaro began her career as a lawyer. She is still currently a firm partner at Foley & Lardner LLP's office in Chicago.[7] She is a member of multiple practice groups in the firm, including Bankruptcy & Business Reorganizations. As a specialized practitioner in bankruptcy, she defended the liquidating trustee against almost $1 billion in claims in the second-largest Ponzi scheme case in United States history.[8] She has also prosecuted frauds, avoidance actions, and breaches.[9][10]

The Korean Vegan

Molinaro started her food blog, The Korean Vegan, in 2016,[11] which consists of recipes that re-imagine traditional Korean meals through plant-based adaptations.[12][13] She began posting to TikTok in 2020 under the same name, and sharing recipes along with personal stories [14] that focus on how her family escaped North Korea and adjusted to life in the United States, how it feels to be a Korean woman living in the diaspora, her law journey, and her abusive first marriage.[15] She also includes discussions on racism, sexism, and xenophobia.[16][17]

In 2021, she published her first cookbook, The Korean Vegan.[18] It was named one of the 16 best vegan cookbooks for 2023 by Food & Wine,[19] and one of the best cookbooks of 2021 by The New York Times. [18] She has been featured in numerous publications, including CNN,[20] CBS,[21] The Atlantic,[22] and the Food Network.[23]

Awards and honors

Year Awards and Honors Event
2023 Food & Wine Game Changers for 2023 Food & Wine[24]
2022 James Beard Foundation Award James Beard Foundation Award: Vegetable Focused Cooking[25]


Personal life

Molinaro resides in Chicago,[26] and has run several half and full marathons.[27]

Shortly after graduating law school, Molinaro married her first husband. While his name is unknown to the public, she has described the marriage as emotionally abusive. They have since divorced.[28] On July 21, 2018, she married Chicago-born concert pianist and music professor Anthony Molinaro in Rome.[29][30][26]


  1. ^ "The Korean Vegan's YouTube Stats (Summary Profile) - Social Blade Stats".((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "About". The Korean Vegan. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  3. ^ "Interview: The Korean Vegan — Adrienne Matei". Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  4. ^ "Joanne Molinaro, aka The Korean Vegan, Doesn't Mince Words". LAIKA. May 20, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  5. ^ "Can Joanne Lee Molinaro, the Korean Vegan, ever stop overachieving?". Los Angeles Times. August 1, 2021. Retrieved August 24, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Podcast Episode 22: Joanne Molinaro, Partner | Foley & Lardner LLP". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  7. ^ "TikToking law firm partner hits back at fellow lawyer's claim she doesn't 'work very hard'". Legal Cheek. August 13, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  8. ^ "AIRA - 36th Annual Bankruptcy & Restructuring Conference Virtual Series". Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  9. ^ "Joanne Molinaro | People | Foley & Lardner LLP". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  10. ^ "Joanne Molinaro". Crain's Chicago Business. November 23, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  11. ^ Stories, Local (November 15, 2018). "Meet Joanne Molinaro of The Korean Vegan in South Loop - Voyage Chicago | Chicago City Guide". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  12. ^ Sung, Hannah (November 27, 2020). "The Korean Vegan Is the Inspiration I Need This Year". Best Health Magazine Canada. Retrieved May 5, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "How Eating Vegan Connects Me To My Grandmother". The Mash-Up Americans. July 20, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  14. ^ "The Korean Vegan hopes her 60-second recipes will make you less racist". Salon. September 28, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  15. ^ "On North Korea, Veganism and Finding One's Passion - An Interview with Joanne Lee from The Korean Vegan". kim-julie hansen. July 23, 2018. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  16. ^ Matei, Adrienne (October 21, 2020). "'The Korean Vegan' Makes Cooking TikToks That Get Real, Quick". Bon Appétit. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  17. ^ "The Korean Vegan: Vegan Cooking and Intimate Storytelling [Interview]". Naira. February 2, 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Best Cookbooks of 2021". The New York Times. December 14, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  19. ^ Makhijani, Pooja (October 14, 2022). "The 16 Best Vegan Cookbooks for 2023". Food & Wine. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  20. ^ "Molinaro Quoted in CNN About Legal Standards for Fraud Allegations | Foley & Lardner LLP". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  21. ^ "The Korean Vegan dishes out life lessons and stories of her diaspora experience". April 12, 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  22. ^ Molinaro, Joanne; Moss, Bradley P. (November 11, 2020). "No Self-Respecting Lawyer Should Touch Trump's Election-Fraud Claims". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 5, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ "BOV Contributor: Joanne Molinaro". Best of Vegan. February 8, 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2021. Joanne adopted a plant-based diet in January 2016 and began The Korean Vegan as a passion project later that year. Since then, her recipes have been featured in Thrive Magazine and in 2017, she appeared on the hit Food Network show "Cooks vs. Cons" as the only female and vegan contestant.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "15 Game Changers Who Are Reshaping the Way We Eat and Drink in 2023". Food & Wine. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  25. ^ "James Beard Foundation Award:Joanne Lee Mollinaro". James Beard Foundation Award. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  26. ^ a b Eng, Monica. "How a high-powered lawyer became a TikTok superstar: Meet the Korean Vegan". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 10, 2022.
  27. ^ "DWRunning - Joanne Molinaro". DWRunning. June 30, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  28. ^ "That Time I Googled "How To Stop Crying."". The Korean Vegan. January 23, 2018. Archived from the original on May 5, 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  29. ^ "Joanne Lee and Anthony Molinaro's Wedding Website". Retrieved May 5, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ "Anthony Molinaro Biography" (PDF). Anthony Molinaro Official Website. p. 2. Retrieved March 10, 2022.