By Chris Buchman, HRNK Research Intern
I spent some time as a field officer with a North Korean humanitarian NGO interviewing North Korean defectors who had just completed their long and harrowing journeys from the sub-arctic climate of northeastern China to humid and sweaty Southeast Asia. I was tasked with conducting monitoring and evaluations interviews; that is, asking defectors about their lives in North Korea, under what circumstances they went to China, how they spent their time in China, and whether or not they had any issues during their escapes to Southeast Asia. Quite often, though, the defectors were so relieved to have completed the home-run stretch to a new and better life that our interviews quickly transformed into heart-to-heart discussions about their hopes, dreams, and worries for the future.
HRNK staff members and interns wish to dedicate this program to our colleague Katty Chi. A native of Chile and graduate of the London School of Economics, Katty became a North Korean human rights defender in her early 20s. Katty was chief of international affairs with the North Korea Strategy Center (NKSC) in Seoul from 2010 to 2014 and worked with the Seoul Office of Liberty in North Korea (LinK) from 2019 to 2020. A remarkable member of our small North Korean human rights community, Katty brought inspiration and good humor to all. Katty passed away in Seoul this past May, at the young age of 32. She is survived by her parents and brother living in Chile. With the YPWP series, we endeavor to honor Katty’s life and work.