My Story Author: Jo Yong No I am currently working as the CEO of Neo Meo, and have introduced more than 30 foreign brands and new domestic brands while working in the sports, outdoor, and fashion industry for about 30 years. I have opened more than 500 stores of New Balance, Birkenstock, Vans, Timberland, JanSport, and Patagonia, to name a few of the brands. As I have been doing business with several brands, I had a chance to go on lots of overseas business trips, resulting in accumulating more than 4 million mileages at the nations’ top two airlines. I initially was not too interested in human rights issues, but I started as a supporting director in 2012 through my own personal relationship with President Changrok Soh. I eventually started to engage as an operating director at the recommendation of President Changrok Soh, when I was concurrently holding the position of CEO of Patagonia Korea. While working closely with various domestic environmental groups, I became more interested in the activities of NGOs, with human rights issues in particular coming into my scope of interest, which made me naturally accept the position of operating director which I still retain. Human Asia is an NGO that aims for an “open Asia without any form of discrimination.” It is a small yet meaningful organization in that it has been quietly but relentlessly striving towards its goal. I wish for a more proactive and engaging Human Asia which cooperates with every member with a shared goal. As I have been to America more than 200 times in the last 30 years due to business trips, I have seen various cases of racial discrimination against African Americans or people with Hispanic or Asian backgrounds. As a result, I kept questioning that America might be the country where racism is most prevalent while it explicitly prohibits racism in the law, so I thought the “Black Lives Matter” movement was predestined to happen. The discrimination to those with African or Hispanic backgrounds has a long history with roots in the 15th century Europe’s colonization and slavery that followed. I hope this movement can be a historic opportunity for the United States, the most influential country in the world, to dramatically overcome racial discrimination. In Buddhism, it is said that we are able to come across each other at least once when we have countless ties in our previous lives. My beloved Human Asia family members, who came together as a result of such great ties! I would like to thank every person who contributed to Human Asia and requests your continuous and active support until our meaningful project can eventually bring “open Asia without any form of discrimination,” and wish every member of Human Asia happiness and safety.
My Story Author: Hannah Chang Hi, I am Hannah Chang from UAEM Korea. UAEM is an international student-run organization that advocates for equitable access to medicines. In last September, a group of Korean university students came together to start the South Korean chapter. We hope to raise awareness on access to medicines (A2M) issue and help improve A2M in Korea. I came across Human Asia from the very beginning of UAEM Korea. It has been a great pleasure to work with professionals rooted in human rights. My group and I were much inspired by how Human Asia efficiently and effectively organizes campaigns to address the most up-to-date human rights issues. As a health advocate, I am interested in many public health issues. Yet, equitable access to medicines is first. At UAEM Korea, we have been doing some research on access to orphan drugs -rare disease treatments- in Korea, a blindspot of the Korean A2M. We are grateful for this wonderful opportunity to work with Human Asia. It has been a true joy and unforgettable experience. We appreciate how Human Asia always try to take our convenience into consideration and support our work in so many ways. Thank you as always.
My Story Author: Juliet Kim Hello everyone, I am Juliet Kim and I had the privilege of working as an Intern at Human Asia during summer 2019. I am a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where I majored in Political Science with minors in International Development and Economic Policy. While I was looking for internships in South Korea, Human Asia stood out to me for its vast experiences and knowledge in organizing human rights events in South Korea. During my time as an intern, I had the unique opportunity to assist in writing a grant proposal for public-oriented biomedical research programs in South Korea. Through this experience, I was able to hone my skills in research, communications, and project management. Some of the highlights were participating in a meeting with Korean university students and reaching out to Korean professors, where I was able to gain a local perspective on the issue. I am interested in a variety of human rights issues. In particular, I am interested in furthering access to education and sustainable development. If anyone is interested in furthering their experience in the human rights and civil society sector in South Korea, I would highly recommend the internship at Human Asia. Beyond being such a rewarding experience, it is a privilege to work with such a highly motivated and talented team at Human Asia.
My Story Author: Sae-eun Lim Hello! I am Sae-eun Lim, currently completing a master’s degree in International Security Studies at Columbia University, New York. Before my masters on international security, I originally studied International Development Cooperation with an academic focus in societal, economic, and political circumstances and human rights issues in developing nations. Prior to going abroad, however, I worked as an aide to the National Assembly, where I directly experienced issues relating to the domestic economy, public policy, and foreign security work. During this experience, I thankfully was able to participate in discussion on the North Korean nuclear issue, Northeast Asian diplomatic security, and security and human rights issues in Asia as a whole. The biggest lesson I learned during my work experience is that due to the miraculous process and result of Korea’s growth from a recipient country to a donor country, young individuals such as myself have the freedom now to respect one another’s opinions and improve basic human rights within a democratic system. However, I also felt that reality is still very different in other places. There are numerous children, youth, and especially women around the world who do not have basic rights to seek happiness, and are unable to voice their opinions. This sad reality is present both across the globe, but also right in front of our eyes on the Northern side of the Korean peninsula. To solve such issues, I believe that Korea must take on responsibility and go beyond cooperative development and human rights. Korea must focus on protecting both its own citizens and vulnerable populations across the world through measured diplomatic security efforts, and continual engagement as an involved member of the international community. To contribute to this vision, I applied to Human Asia’s Global Vision Scholarship and thankfully, was then able to conduct more active and diverse research and academic activities. Through this opportunity, I was able to rediscover the importance of people-centric activity, based on mutual love and understanding. I believe I have come this far today by the grace of the continuous love, support, and attention I received from many individuals along the way. There are about 7 billion people on Earth, and perhaps we are all endowed with a life that is a result of 7 billion odds. To some, this number may simply appear as a small probability and number, but this also means that our lives are that much more precious and meaningful. I aspire to work my best in my current position to spread my values and assist more vulnerable people in Korea and around the world, and to become a warm person who can reach out to people in need even in the distant future. I hope you will join me on this path and that Human Asia can show a brighter future and vision for many others. We can do it if we do it together. I support everyone on their individual journeys.
My Story Author: Woohyung Cho My name is Woohyung Cho and I am in the 8th grade at Aju Middle School, in the Songpa district in Seoul. I enjoy playing sports with my friends, and especially love to play basketball. I was introduced to Human Asia’s Youth Human Rights Club by a friend’s recommendation. Through taking part in the club’s activities with my friends, I felt rewarded by reading books about human rights and planning and implementing campaigns. I especially remember collecting and donating sports equipment from our school. The human rights issue I am currently interested in is the human rights violations of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Because their personal information has been revealed online, some have become victims of hate speech and online verbal attacks, creating another issue among the crisis of the pandemic. By working with Human Asia for a year, I now have a deeper interest in human rights issues, and achieved a sense of accomplishment by doing research, sharing my opinions with others, and participating in campaigns. I hope you can participate and experience such activities like I did!
My Story Author: Wongun Choi Hi. My name is Wongun Choi, from the Political Studies Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. With the support of Human Asia’s Global Vision Scholarship, I successfully completed my doctoral degree and graduated on May 16. Having first left the country for my studies and meeting Human Asia via the Global Vision Scholarship in 2012, it has now been over 8 years since I came to know about Human Asia. Thanks to their continual support, I was able to complete my coursework, field research and thesis, and graduate with a research focus on the role of NGOs in protecting refugees in Asia. Before beginning my doctoral degree, I worked together with both the Refugee Human Rights Center and the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network. I was with the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network from early 2009, and this gave me the chance to cooperate with Human Asia on various projects during this time. We collaborated together on educational programs such as special lectures on refugees, and on a number of campaigns, including events on World Refugee Day. After working with Human Asia on such occasions and through preparing for my studies overseas, I naturally came to know about Human Asia’s Global Vision Scholarship, and decided to apply. Following the conclusion of my masters degree, I immediately began working as an activist within a NGO. As I was struggling to financially support my plans to study abroad, Human Asia’s Global Vision Scholarship became a huge stepping stone for me to pursue my studies. Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to overcome numerous obstacles and successfully complete my long period of studies in Hawaii. I got married, had children, and also finished my thesis during this period, which somehow makes me feel like the Global Vision Scholarship was with me throughout the highs and lows of this life journey. I have been continually interested in refugee issues since my time working in NGOs. My own family background as a separated family during the Korean War led me naturally to develop an interest in refugees. I became a refugee activist during my undergraduate years by studying and interning in organisations such as Amnesty International and Refuge pNan. Now, I am pursuing a career path as a researcher in the field of refugees. Among the many issues surrounding refugees, I have recently started to pay particular attention to refugee protection efforts on the civil society and grassroot levels. The 2015 Syrian refugee crisis exposed the limits of an international refugee protection system that is still based on twentieth century European historical experiences. To protect refugees, cooperation and burden-sharing needs to take place across borders. However, the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis demonstrated that states will dismiss such cooperative efforts for their own supposed national interests. It was especially shocking that even Europe, the founding place of the current international refugee protection system, was unable to resist such waves of isolationism. The recent Syrian and Rohingya refugees crises show that there needs to be a new refugee protection system for the twenty-first century. In this context, I am making efforts to conduct academic research on alternative, practical approaches to refugee protection. I am also interested in interdisciplinary research among the fields of refugees, migration, and development. The concept of and issues relating to the ‘refugee’ holds more meaning than the simple problem of individual rights. Refugees are the result of a state failing to uphold its fundamental social contract of protecting the lives and rights of its citizens. In this regard, the refugee issue is an area where migration, human rights, and development overlap. Although I am currently focusing on the issue of reforming refugee protection from national and security-based approaches to a more human rights-based approach, I hope to expand my academic interests to include the fields of cooperative development, development, and refugees in the future. The majority of Korea’s scholarship and research support programs for students studying abroad tends to centre around practical academic fields that yield short-term accomplishments. The Global Vision Scholarship is imperative for the areas of human rights and international development in particular, as it is the only domestic scholarship program that I am aware of that sponsors the next generation of social sciences leaders for long-term and sustainable outcomes. I thank Human Asia and the Global Vision Scholarship for their encouragement throughout the lengthy period of my studies. I will try my best to help the Global Vision Scholarship evolve to nurture the next generation of scholars and activists beyond Korea: to represent Asia as a whole.
My Story Author: Jeeeon Lee Hi, I am Jeeeon Lee, and I am studying at Hong Kong University. I have always been interested in human rights, and therefore decided to participate in Human Asia’s Model UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) event when it was recommended to me by a friend. The UPR is a human rights mechanism implemented at the United Nations Human Rights Council that reviews and provides solutions for human rights issues within its member states every four years and six months. Participating in the UN Human Rights Council UPR event gave me the opportunity to debate and analyse human rights issues and situations in Northeast Asia with other participants. As the delegate of North Korea, I researched the reality of North Korea’s technology and privacy rights, and explored potential areas for improvement. Through the competition held by Human Asia, I was able to discover various human rights issues in Northeast Asia, and further realised that it is important for each delegate to have an open mind and build constructive dialogue within the UPR. Additionally, I felt the need for human rights susceptibility in the international community and the importance of constant attention and understanding of human rights as global citizens. The human rights issue I am mainly interested in is the rights of refugees and migrants, particularly those within blind spots of human rights norms. According to the UN Refugee Agency’s report on global trends last year, there are currently more than 70 million people who have fled from war, persecution, and civil war. As the recent COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, these numerous refugees dispersed around the world are at risk of ending up in a blind spot of human rights protection efforts. For example, residents in South Africa’s squatter areas are struggling with being expelled or having their shelters destroyed following the country’s lockdown. The majority of such residents are refugees paying rent and working in the informal economy. With at least 49 shacks having now been demolished in the Khayelitsha Township in Capetown, many refugees are being deprived of their basic rights. At times of international difficulty like now, the most vulnerable populations are placed in blind spots of human rights. As the UN Refugee Agency’s High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said, the assignment to protect and develop solutions to improve the conditions of refugees worldwide is a common one that all countries are obliged to work together for the common good. I want to continue to work to protect refugees and those who are vulnerable and are placed in the blind spot of human rights in the future. By interning in Human Asia in Summer 2020, I look forward to thinking further about sustainable human rights-based approaches and gaining professional knowledge on various human rights issues.
My Story Author: Yuchul Rhim My name is Yuchul Rhim. When I was young, I followed my father to the US, where I attended school up to the third grade, and then returned to South Korea. In the 1990s, I returned to the US again to complete my graduate studies. Since 2003 I have worked at H&Q Korea, a management company with a cumulative private equity fund of about 2 trillion won, where I now serve as the Managing Director and Joint Representative Director. When I attended school in Chicago in the 1970s, I commonly experienced racism on a day-to-day basis at a young age. These discriminatory experiences as an Asian in the U.S. continued during my studies in graduate school. But at graduate school, I first came to gain hands-on experience as an advocate of human rights, by refusing to stay silent and actively responding to such racial discrimination. I started to work more seriously in the field of human rights after I was moved by President Changrok Soh’s words on the difficulty of becoming an advocate of human rights in Asia, with Chinese socialism and Japan’s past war crimes. Although in the beginning I held doubts about how effectively we could communicate human rights advocacy and education to the public, I soon felt the true value of our work when I saw the rise in general awareness and the positive effects of our activities in the Asian context. These days I am further often concerned with how I can actively contribute on an individual level. The concept of human rights can no longer be dismissed as a political tool or a property of specific organisations. It is something we all experience and must face within our daily lives. We are already facing various human rights issues: such as the rights of sexual minorities and foreign workers, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, the treatment of casual workers, and the protection of personal information. Many countries in Asia are prone to additional human rights issues. During such times, I hope that it will be South Korea’s national power and pride to become a model country in protecting and promoting human rights.
My Story Author: Minseok Kang Hello. I am Minseok Kang. I participated in the 2018 Young Human Rights Activists Workshop. I have a B.A. in French Language and Literature, and am currently completing my masters degree on European Regional Studies at Yonsei University. Having volunteered as a French translator at a refugee human rights NGO during my undergraduate years, I have a particular interest in the human rights of refugees. In 2018 - around the same time that the arrival of Yemeni refugees on Jeju Island was giving rise to fake news and resentment here - I discovered Human Asia’s Young Human Rights Activists Workshop. I applied to learn more about the Yemini refugee issue, and to discover various other issues on human rights through the workshop’s diverse lectures. During the workshop, I gained field experience relating to refugee human rights and the educational field, by visiting local high schools. We discussed the definition of refugees, how one becomes a refugee, and the common misunderstandings and realities about the lives of refugees with the students. Before meeting the students, I was initially concerned that the students may have been influenced by the fake news and hate speech surrounding refugees. Luckily, however, I was relieved and thankful to find the students’ empathic attitudes and their understanding towards the refugees’ perspectives. I have a continuous interest in the human rights of refugees, and am interested in the idea of global citizenship. After witnessing events where hate speech has directly affected individual lives last year, I am paying close attention to articles on expressions of hate and discrimination. To eradicate hatred and discrimination together for a coexisting society, it is important for citizens to recognise themselves as citizens of the world. This is linked to the reason why I am pursuing a degree in European Regional studies at graduate school - I am studying the European Union and its member states’ status, and their response to human rights issues. As society is seemingly becoming more competitive and contentious, there are more people who are discriminated against and deprived of their basic human rights. More now than ever, we need to actively develop human rights awareness and sensitivity; that can enable us to address challenges linked to discrimination. Human Asia’s educational programs, workshops, and forums on human rights are playing an important role in promoting awareness and human rights sensitivity among citizens and young people. I hope many others will participate in Human Asia’s programs and become valuable seeds that establish the roots of human rights awareness in our society.
My Story Author: April Park Hello, I am April Park. I have a BA in political science and policy studies from Grinnell College and I have been working as a project intern at Human Asia since January 2020. I am primarily interested in analysing and understanding connections among migration, environment, and human rights. I also strive to discuss human rights violations that stem from such interactions and designing unbiased and detailed policy approaches to combat such violations. In 2017, I had a great opportunity to study and work with different federal, non-profit, and civil organisations in various parts of the world. Since then, I have been wanting to strengthen my ability to translate theoretical concepts to practical strategies and came across an internship opportunity at Human Asia. I was initially working with organising Human Asia’s first East Asia Young Activist Networking (EAYAN) Program. Unfortunately, the program was postponed due to the COVID 19 outbreak. Currently, I am floating around and assisting with Human Asia’s other on-going tasks. My works include but are not limited to translations, digital design and website maintenance, research and report writing, news scraping, and any other tasks needed to organise other online campaigns. Thanks to Human Asia’s project diversity, active decision-making process, cooperative work environment, and open-minded work ethics, I have been genuinely enjoying my time at Human Asia. Since the initial COVID 19 outbreak, there has been a sharp increase in cases regarding discrimination based on gender, sexuality, nationality, and any other marginalised social identities. The fear ignited by the virus has exacerbated the deep-rooted systematic discrimination against minorities. Yet, COVD 19 has also shown us hope. Around the world, there are organisations, activists, and individuals who stand their ground and strive to create a resilient community. I, for one, am grateful to be working with Human Asia and be part of the grand unity of action. Human Asia has been at the forefront of creating equality and solidarity by supporting future leaders through their educational and development programs, understanding the significance of regional communication and networking, and actively listening to the needs of vulnerable communities. Big or small, every effort counts. If anyone is interested in human rights advocacy and is looking for ways to contribute, Human Asia offers a big variety of opportunities. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!
My Story Author: Hyesu Yoon Hello, I am Hyesu Yoon. In 2015, I worked with Human Asia as an intern. Currently I am working as a Programme Analyst at the UNDP in Rwanda, primarily working on climate change, environment, and disaster relief. I worked with Human Asia from June 2015 to December 2015 as an intern. My first experience with human rights advocacy came from my experience studying abroad in the United States. After taking international human rights classes, I soon became mesmerised by the topic and decided to apply for an internship to gain experience with advocacy work. It still brings me bittersweet memories to think back to my final interview with Director Somi Kwon - I went into the interview with a leg cast! Director Kwon later told me that she was so impressed by my passion in the interview that she accepted me to work with Human Asia as an intern. During the six months of my internship, I participated in various educational and advocacy campaigns - the Model UN UPR, the Human Rights Schools for Teenagers, Youth Human Rights Activists Workshop, Youth Human Rights Club, Korea Refugee Film Festival - and assisted with bi-weekly human rights newsletter research. When I think back to my time at Human Asia, I remember enjoying working with such great and welcoming colleagues and interns. Thanks to Human Asia’s comprehensive approach to its work, I was able to meet and connect with diverse people from various backgrounds and knowledge. The diversity coupled with their unified passion for human rights gave me a lot of inspiration and aspirations for my future. The chance to meet and learn from students, scholars, lawyers and other activists allowed me to brainstorm and critically assess my own position working in human rights advocacy. I was further able to familiarise myself with refugee problems in Korea by working with the Jumma community from Bangladesh, and the Refugee Support Network. My current area of interest focuses on climate change-related human rights issues. Protecting basic human rights, especially those of vulnerable communities, has been a continual challenge due to the increasing number of natural disasters and drastic weather changes. In regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, fundamental rights regarding access to clean energy, clean water and sanitation, adequate housing, and personal security and livelihood are constantly challenged. For example, Rwanda is 1800m above sea level. Unpredictable floods and landslides cause more and more casualties every year. The destruction caused by these natural disasters threaten the local economy and the basic living security of the locals, including the regular supply of electricity and water. Furthermore, there are countless climate migrants who are forced to leave their homes due to climate change across Africa. In a similar line to the British economist Kate Raworth in her book Donut Economics, I believe that establishing a social foundation that protects human dignity without going beyond an ecological limit is what constitutes climate justice and human rights protection. To make this vision a reality, I will strive to undertake quick and practical action in the field; to cope with the climate crisis in low-income countries at increased risk, and protect the rights of the vulnerable population. My internship at Human Asia was an invaluable experience that allowed me to study international issues from a human rights perspective. I hope that anyone whose interests lie in human rights issues takes an opportunity to participate in Human Asia’s internships and other campaigns and be part of the change that will motivate global human rights activism.
My Story Author: Joon Oh Hello. I am Joon Oh, former South Korean Ambassador to the UN. Following the conclusion of my diplomatic career in 2017, I now work with several social organisations such as Save the Children, The Snail of Love and Rehabilitation International Korea, alongside teaching at Kyung Hee University and KDI Graduate School. I have further been active as an Advisor to Human Asia since 2018. After working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years and being involved with local social organisations and schools, I have come to believe that above all, the future generation and local citizens hold the most important roles within this new global age. This is the reason why I decided to work with Human Asia. Simply put, despite there being a multitude of challenges that pose a threat to the future of our planet and mankind, more and more countries are increasingly choosing to respond to these problems with self-centered nationalism. Instead of coming together to combine resources and knowledge with other nations, state leaders think solely of their own national borders and citizens. I believe that it is time for global citizens who care about the world and humanity as a whole to take centre stage, rather than allowing shortsighted politicians to dictate what our world becomes. I first got involved with Human Asia as I believed it to be a social organisation working to improve human rights. As time went on, I came to understand that the organisation also actively assists low-income countries in need with humanitarian aid. Human rights and humanitarianism are two similar yet distinct concepts. Human rights discuss matters of natural rights and entitlement; while humanitarianism bases itself on philanthropy. Human rights are mandated by the state: yet humanitarian aid is not necessarily mandatory. Regardless of their differences, they are both equally important and valuable and I am impressed by Human Asia’s effort to enforce such activities in wider regions of Asia. Human rights support and humanitarian aid may sometimes seem in conflict with one another. For instance, if the government of Myanmar oppresses the rights of the Rohingya community, should we condemn them and stop providing humanitarian aid to Myanmar? A similar dilemma applies to North Korea. I believe however that it is possible to find a balance between advocacy and humanitarian aid. In other words, the international community can still provide humanitarian aid to help the North Korean people while providing clear constructive criticisms on North Korea’s systematic human rights violations. UN sanctions against North Korea do not include humanitarian aid for this very reason. Criticisms of human rights oppressions and humanitarian aid both ultimately seek to serve the people. Through working with various governmental bodies, I have come to realise that when we look at a country, we should move beyond focusing solely on the government and look to recognise its people. We cannot and should not overlook the importance of the word ‘human’ in Human Asia.
My Story Author: Jaecheon Lee I am a pediatric dentist who has worked professionally in the field of children’s dental health for over thirty years. Since beginning my work running the first children’s dental clinic in Korea, I have had several opportunities to take on more international roles within the field of children's dental health. I have further been active as the Director of the Korean Academy of Pediatric Dentistry within the Asian Congress of Pediatric Dental Sciences for over ten years now. One opportunity that my position has granted me was opening a small children’s dental clinic with a local dentist nine years ago in Gurugram, a city near New Delhi in India. Unfortunately, due to the geographical distance, I am only able visit the clinic once a year. Whenever I visit, however, I find that rather than me going to help them, the trip always proves to be more beneficial for me, both mentally and emotionally. I have the chance to meet new people and spend time with the local children there, who always greet me warmly with a smile despite their hardships. As business operations and the quality of the practice improved over the years, we have now nearly completed the process of transferring full ownership to my local partner. I first met President Changrok Soh at a performance by the musician Saik Jang. After learning of his work and sympathising with his dedication to improving human rights in Asia, I decided to support Human Asia’s activities through patronage, with the hope that my contributions could be used to support children’s rights in particular. Although I haven’t had the opportunity myself to visit Human Asia’s humanitarian sites overseas, I have remained continually engaged in Human Asia’s projects and watched over their development with great pride and pleasure. Treating children every day in my daily life, I have long believed that children are the world’s future. Unlike adults, who can determine to an extent how and where they live, children are often stripped of their voices and placed in situations beyond their control. This can frequently result in the violation of children’s rights. It is of utmost importance to protect the health rights of children and provide young people with opportunities to study and learn as much as they can, particularly in Asia which has a relatively high child population proportion. This is why we must work together to protect the future of our children today. I will strive to actively support and engage in Human Asia’s work in the future onwards. Thank you.
My Story Author: Seok-woo Kim Hello. My name is Seok-woo Kim - I am one of Human Asia’s Advisors. After graduating from Seoul National University School of Law, I worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for twenty-five years. I have served as both the National Unification Vice Minister, and as Chief of Staff of the Korean National Assembly [ 국회의장 비서실장]. During my time as National Unification Vice Minister, I established the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, enacted the North Korean Defector Support Act, and encouraged the Hanawon construction. Along with these initiatives, I have worked closely with Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights and soon started working with Human Asia. I started studying human rights law when I worked as a diplomat and became involved in the negotiations on the legal status of Koreans in Japan. My experience as a diplomat taught me that if I persevere and continuously advocate human rights, success will surely follow. The negotiations with Japan and China that followed rounds of previous negotiation reaffirmed this belief in the importance of human rights advocacy. I believe that Korea, along with its powerful neighbours in East Asia, should play a leading role in reinforcing international norms, especially human rights. To make this a reality, organisations such as Human Asia play a critical role. For everyone in Korea to enjoy freedom, human rights, and respect by other international communities, we need to actively pursue various human rights advocacy activities. For Korea to develop an advanced civil society, citizen participation is of utmost importance.
My Story Author: Minyoung Park Hello. My name is Minyoung Park - I’m currently double-majoring in International Studies and French Language and Literature at Korea University. I previously worked as an intern with Human Asia’s Development and Cooperation Team in the second half of 2019. While living in France as an exchange student, I became certain that I would like to realise my tentative dream of working in an international organisation in the future. I was particularly interested in the field of human rights and development. In addition to my academic studies, I believed that I needed practical experience too to help me decide upon my final career path. After searching through various internships, I was particularly drawn to Human Asia and their human-rights based development projects. Luckily, my application for their 2019 internship program was successful, and I began working with the Development and Cooperation Team in late 2019. One of the first things I noticed while working as an intern was how considerately Human Asia treated their interns. Interns are typically students, meaning that we often end up struggling to balance our academic studies with work demands. Due to the flexible work environment, however, at Human Asia I was consistently able to maintain a good work-study balance. I was also given the chance to work on projects that matched with my own personal areas of interest. This allowed for me to gain hands-on experience and learn in more detail about the kinds of projects and skills that I could expect to work on if I came to work in a similar career in the future. My most memorable experience from my time at Human Asia was the 12th Asia Human Rights Forum on human rights, business and technology. Even just in the process of preparing for the event I had multiple opportunities to participate directly and learn, but it was taking part in the forum itself that really let me gain a new perspective on understanding human rights. I engaged in meaningful dialogue with guest speakers and experts and spoke on my own areas of interest, using the basis of my research conducted while preparing for the event to participate. This was truly a great experience for me, and I remain interested in the topic of business and human rights to this day. With the global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it will be interesting to see how businesses respond to the unprecedented economic and social impacts of this continuing crisis. As businesses constitute a major part of modern society, both their external and internal responses efforts and how they attempt to overcome upcoming challenges will be extremely significant in the near future. I’d like to learn more about how businesses demonstrate accountability in related fronts moving forward. Additionally, I’m also currently researching the types of support provided by businesses for promoting women’s leadership in business, and how effective these mechanisms are in practice. Human Asia continually works to implement innovative projects and forums that address fundamental human rights issues through HRBD, education, and advocacy projects. From President Soh, to the Secretary-General, the Program Officers and the interns, I can see how each individual in the organisation is striving to realise fundamental human rights for all. I was truly inspired and motivated by my time at Human Asia. I hope that Human Asia reaches new heights in the future!
My Story Author: Yedam Kim Hello, I major in Politics and Diplomacy at Dankook University and worked at Human Asia as an intern in the second half of 2019. I decided that I wanted to work at an NGO as I became interested in international development and cooperation, and applied to Human Asia because its two-day work schedule allowed me to commit to Human Asia and my studies simultaneously. During my internship, I was able to learn about global human rights issues by translating news articles weekly, and also learned how to format articles into card-news. Overall it was a great opportunity to gain knowledge on the work ethic and atmosphere of an NGO. I am concerned at the rise in hate and criticism toward the LGBT community after the spread of COVID-19 cases in Itaewon. I recommend Human Asia to anyone who wants to experience working in an NGO! It will be a great experience as you can take part in marketing, promotion, and event planning as well. Above all, you will be able to meet amazing people!!