By Caroline Welling, former HRNK intern
On January 11, 2016, Elena Racheva presented her book, 58th Uneliminated, at the Woodrow Wilson Center. 58th Uneliminated discusses the deplorable conditions in the Soviet Union’s Gulag during Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror through various testimonies from survivors and former employees of the Gulag. These testimonies also serve as important representations of Russia’s transition from a former Communist state to today’s society. Racheva’s book ultimately portrays a Russian society that has not effectively transitioned to provide justice or closure to its gulag victims. Yet, Post-Soviet Russia stands in stark contrast to its ally North Korea. Despite Russia’s inability or unwillingness to fully repair its past, it has transitioned away from Communism; a success story which North Korea, a country where up to 120,000 victims are held in political prison camps, cannot claim. As a result, there is still time to draw careful comparisons between the two countries and learn transitional justice lessons for North Korea’s gulag victims.
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 in May 2020, 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.