The potter grew up on the island of Jeju as the son of orange farmers and was exposed there to coarse, unglazed local utilitarian ceramics. At Seoul National University, where he received both his BFA and MFA, he began his career as a sculptor. In time, he moved on to the cool, spare elegance of white porcelain that characterizes the Joseon period.
Lee teaches at Chungang University, and is also a designer for a Korean porcelain manufactory. The studio and workshop where he creates his own pieces, with the help of three assistants, is located in a quiet valley near Anseon, a small town two hours south of Seoul. He works at night, constructing slab sculptures that apply a patchwork technique reminiscent of traditional pojagi carrying cloths. He pounds out the slabs by hand and then painstakingly fastens them together. He aims to update Korea's ceramic tradition for the 21st century.