e-mail us
Video camera brings suffering to light


If you have ever seen video footage about North Korean orphanages or children’s feeding programs on the evening news, chances are you’ve seen images shot by Kathi Zellweger of Caritas Hong Kong.

Zellweger has visited North Korea 22 times since 1995. She always carries a video camera and once back in Hong Kong releases the images to media outlets.

She has had no trouble taking tapes out of the country, although the pictures they present are often stark and harrowing, and, some would say, an indictment against the failed policies of the North Korean regime.

“This is a big sign of improved relations [with North Korea],” Zellweger said. “It’s no problem to take a camera and bring out footage that they know will be distributed.”

Though the day-to-day life in North Korea remains grim, Zellweger finds some small signs of improvement:

  • International aid workers now have access to 75 percent of North Korean counties.
  • Inspection of aid projects is easier, and the number of random visits has increased.
  • Revisions to the constitution in 1998 allow more private property rights and greater freedom of movement.
  • Farmers markets are now part of daily life.
  • More land has been turned into small private plots.
  • People at all levels of society speak more openly of the difficulties they face.

“Despite the crisis,” Zellweger said, “it is remarkable how the spirit of solidarity, self-help and determination remains deeply rooted among the North Korean people.”

National Catholic Reporter, April 23, 1999