Katharina Zellweger, Visiting Fellow of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, spoke at the CCOUC Disaster and Humanitarian Seminar Series 2013-2014 on the topic “North Korea and the Need for Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Assistance” on 22 April 2014 to share her experience in North Korea.
The focus of the presentation was on humanitarian aid, rehabilitation projects and development cooperation in North Korea, including a number of facts and figures about the country and background information about the health sector. The actors in assistance were identified along with issues faced when providing assistance. Zellweger also provided insights into positive examples of development programs and records some of the prerequisites needed to make such involvements work. Based on five years of work experience in Pyongyang heading the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Zellweger concluded that isolation and sanctions hindered development potential and that engagement was more likely to be a constructive and peaceful way forward.
Prior to her current visiting fellowship at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, Zellweger was the Pantech Fellow in Korean Studies at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, in residence at Stanford University from November 2011 to August 2013. Most recently at Stanford she gave a course entitled “An Insight into North Korea Society” for graduate and undergraduate students. She is a frequent presenter on the topic of the situation of the North Korean people, to audiences in the U.S. and abroad. Zellweger has also made significant contributions in this field through her participation in workshops, seminars and conferences about humanitarian, as well as security, issues on the Korean peninsula, more specifically regarding North Korea.
Zellweger is a senior aid manager with over 30 years of field experience in Hong Kong, China and North Korea. She was based in Pyongyang for five years (2006-2011) as North Korea country director for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), an office of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The focus of her work was on sustainable agricultural production in order to address food security issues, income generation to improve people’s livelihoods, and capacity development contributing to individual and institutional learning.
Before joining SDC, Zellweger worked from 1978 to 2006 for the Catholic agency Caritas in Hong Kong in a senior post; she played a key role in pioneering Caritas involvement initiatives in China and in North Korea.
Zellweger received the Bishop Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Award in 2005 from a South Korean foundation established to promote social justice, and in 2006 the Dame of St. Gregory the Great from the Vatican for her work in North Korea.
Upon the invitation of The Korea Society of New York she organized a (still on-going) travelling exhibition of her collection of North Korean socialist posters.
Zellweger has a Master’s in International Administration, School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.