My dream of Korea as a leader of human rights movement in Asia
This month Hurasia's feature interview is on Mr. Yuchul Rhim, whose spiritual and practical support for Human Asia has been substantial. Even with his busy schedule, he stops by office to encourage the staff. He was also a moderator for Human Asia's annual Asia Human Rights Forum (in its fifth and sixth years). Let us meet director Yuchul Rhim whose bright smiles always bring even bigger smiles to anyone who has a chance to meet with him.
Human Asia Director
President, H&Q Asia Pacific Korea & Affiliates
"To me, what's most crucial is to be aware of Korea's and our own responsibilities for improving human rights in Asia.".
1. Director Rhim, first of all everyone at Human Asia would like to thank you for your constant support for the organization. Would you please share with the Hurasia readers of how you became involved with Human Asia as a director?
I grew up in the States as a little boy where I experienced racial discrimination. After such experience, whenever people receive unfair treatment or go through discrimination, I felt as if I was going through the same experience. I identify with those feelings. Through President Changrok Soh, I learned of Human Asia. I knew it was a small organization but I became aware of its potential and joined as a director. I want to contribute so that all the marginalized individuals in Asia can live dignified lives.
2. We think that you are a good role model. You work in business but you actively participate in public services & volunteer activities. If you have any philosophy when you conduct your social work, please share with us.
It is not easy obviously, to allocate your time and passion for something that is not your job. So when it comes to human rights, what I do is to focus on small tasks that I can achieve, rather than starting a big project from the very beginning. I get to appreciate little things that are seldom 'little' as it brings happiness in my life and hopefully for others as well. Little by little, something meaningful will come about I'm sure.
3. How did you become interested in human rights? Is there any particular human rights issues that you are more interested in?
As I mentioned earlier, my experience as a child, what I experienced as a student in the States (racial discrimination) made me contemplated upon discriminations in general and human rights. I came back to Korea and witness the difficult daily lives migrant works as well as North Korean refugees face. All these made me want to more deeply involved in human rights community here in Korea.
4. You were the principal moderator for the 6th Asia Human Rights Forum organized by Human Asia. Please share your experience and what you have felt or learned through the Forum.
I am probably not the only person thinking that Korea carries collossal responsibility for raising awareness on human rights situations in Asia as well as promoting them. Japan and China they have achieved economic success but their capaity for becoming a human rights leader is rather limited because of historical and ideological complication-war, colonial history, etc. Korea however has dealt with its human rights issues on its own, achieving democracy. Korea's economic success has been remarkable as well, making it a great potential leader in the field of human rights. Through the 6th Asia Human Rights Forum, where Korea host the major human rights conference to give voice to the marginalized individuals of Asia, I felt personally more responsible for the task and also felt proud to be part of this movement.
5. If there is anything that you envision for Human Asia's future, do share it with us.
What's most important is that more people must realize the roles they can play to promote human rights in Asia. Especially what Korea, and what we can do to improve human rights in Asia. To that end, Human Asia will have continue its endeavour to keeping the public engaged and to raise awareness through its various programs. I will do my part by keepig myself involved in Human Asia's various initiatiaves.
Interview questions prepared by_Minjoo Kim (Human Asia Intern)
Translated by_Jooyea Lee (Human Asia Program manager)