By Hye-soo Kim*
Edited by Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs and Editor, and
Nicholas Chun and Hangyun Kim, HRNK Research Interns
Original translation by Grace Kan, HRNK Research Intern
I would normally wake up at 6:00 a.m. I would help prepare breakfast, pack my backpack, and put on my school uniform and pin. Many people around the world have worn school uniforms at least once in their lives. For some countries with compulsory education, students are required to wear school uniforms up until high school. The North Korean regime, however, forces its students to wear school uniforms starting from elementary school to the end of their university careers. North Korean students must each day wear red scarves that symbolize the communist regime, and pins with portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. For North Korean students, everything—from their uniforms to the utilities in their classrooms—is about representing their loyalty to the Kim family regime.
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.