Introducing Joanna Hosaniak

Today I’d like to introduce to you another foreigner in Seoul working for North Korean human rights. Meet Joanna Hosaniak.

Joanna is a senior programs officer with the Seoul-based NGO, Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR). She was born and raised in Poland and became interested in North Korean issues while working at the South Korean embassy in Poland. She then had a chance to work with NKHR when she helped organize an event in Warsaw. She was then offered a position and moved to Korea in 2004 and has been working on North Korean human rights since then.

Joanna brings an interesting perspective to the field because she grew up experiencing communism and knows what that looks like. “As head of NKHR’s international campaign and cooperation team, she says her experience watching Poland overthrow communism is vital to her work raising awareness and assisting North Korean defectors.” Having grown up in a communist state where her parents had to smuggle prohibited books for her, she feels even more strongly the need to do what she can to help those suffering in North Korea.

In an interview with Chosun Ilbo, when asked what she thought about South Koreans who are pro-North Korea she answers as follows:

“They admire North Korea because of two misunderstandings. First, the misunderstanding that communism really aims to create an ideal world, and secondly, the misunderstanding that North Korea is a communist state. They’d realize how wrong they are if they experienced communism, and how dangerous it is to dream of a utopia that is so far from the reality. And then, North Korea isn’t even a communist country. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s hereditary kingdom is much worse than communism.”

When asked what she would like to do when unification happens she answers,

“I’d like to teach human rights in North Korea. Human rights education will be needed for people from all sectors after unification, so I’d want to go to North Korea, set up an NGO and teach people what I know about human rights. I experienced a life without freedom, although it wasn’t as extreme as North Korea, and I definitely know how painful that is, so I’m sure I would be more sympathetic to them and understand their situation.”

Joanna mentions that the issue of North Korean human rights does not receive enough attention in South Korea. There is still much to be done here in South Korea in relations to just raising awareness about the issue. She warns that “if South Korean society doesn’t wake up on the issue now, it could be vastly unprepared for eventual unification.”

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One thought on “Introducing Joanna Hosaniak

  1. Hi. I’m Lithuanian, living in United Kingdom since 2008. Lithuania has just a same or very similar history comparing to Poland. Nowadays both countries got border line, so they are really close to each other. Joanna mentioned She knows what means being part of communist world, cause her country was part of it back in a days. Like I said – my native country has same or very similar history as well, cause we also was part of all that ”communism”, ”soviet union” thing. This is why for people like me and like all people like Joanna maybe is easier to understand every North Korean situation, how they really feel deep in their hearts. Nowadays, I very interested in North Korea’s issues, and always wondering how I can help for every North Korean. But I even never met any North Korean. Meet North Korean – one of my dream. In my opinion best thing which can happen – just that what authors of this topic mentioned (reunification of both Korea republics), but in fact it probably not gonna happen soon, only way to survive and start new life for North Koreans are – escape from their mother land. Things which happens in North Korea, and how people get’s mistreated there – completely misunderstandable thing for me. I thinking to visit North Korea next Year, but I don’t think it would be good idea to try help for North Korean in their country (in fact there always will be some Officials, which try to stop people which trying to help). I pretty sure is no good idea even mention words such as ”Human Rights” or ”Concentration Camps” on trip in North Korea. I heard tourists even not allowed talk to native North Koreans while tourist on his/her trip (except talk to North Korean guides and some Officials). After all – how I understood there’s no way to help to North Korean anyhow in North Korea (as long as system in that country just like that what we see for many years). Well, maybe there’s chance to help them by entering North Korea illegally (not as tourist, by crossing river which is actually border line between China and North Korea), but I don’t think there are somebody who would like take that risk. So, again – In my opinion, if somebody wants to help for North Korean people, only way to do it is – help them almost anywhere in the world except inside North Korea. Finally – Nice to know there are many people who interested in all this issues. That makes me think – one day everything will get changed. Thanks to people like Joanna, and everyone which thinks similar to that.

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