at Open Society Foundations, NYC, USA

Today, the Open Society Foundations will mark their 20th group exhibition of “Moving Walls 20” at their new location in midtown Manhattan. Initially conceived 15 years ago as a way to highlight the foundation’s issues and to support documentary photography, the exhibition highlights and adds value to important (and often under-reported) social issues.

Moving Walls 20" features work by Katharina Hesse, Yuri Kozyrev, Fernando Moleres, Ian Teh, and Donald Weber. The exhibit highlights societies in the Arab region and in China undergoing transition amidst political and economic change, as well as people victimized by repressive regimes and faulty justice systems in North Korea, Sierra Leone, and Ukraine.


Above you can see two pictures of Katharina Hesse‘s project, Borderland: North Korean Refugees. The project tells the individual narratives of North Korean refugees along the Chinese border. Because they’re classified by the Chinese government as ‘economic migrants’, the refugees are ineligible for official UN refugee status.

“After experiencing a world like this, it just didn’t feel ‘right’ to take pictures and move on to the next job,” Hesse wrote. She has been shooting the project for nine years.

Find more photos and information on TIME LightBox.

Exhibition dates:
May 8 – Dec 13, 2013

Northern China, October 2003. Kim Jeong-Ya (a pseudonym), 67, who lives near the North Korean border in Yanji, China, belongs to a handful of Chinese activists who have dedicated their lives to helping North Koreans make a safe passage from North Korea to South Korea via mainland China. Most foreign activists are simply expelled from China if caught participating in assistance missions, whereas, local Chinese and some South Koreans have faced severe punishment. Kim has been imprisoned twice and beaten up by North Korean agents operating in China. Kim’s relatives, who did the same kind of support work “disappeared” in North Korea. Since her release from jail, Kim has been under intense police surveillance. Her meager life savings was confiscated by local authorities, and she is not allowed to leave her home in the suburbs of Yanji.

Seoul, Korea, November 2008. Park Lee Hwan (a pseudonym), 67, stands in the hallway of a building that houses North Korean refugees living in Seoul. It took her five years to travel clandestinely from China to South Korea. Initially, Park was planning to visit her relatives in China and do temporary work, but her relatives convinced her not to return to North Korea. Park made her way to Beijing, where she presented herself at the South Korean Embassy. Embassy staff sent her to a third country, the Philippines, and then she went to Seoul. Park’s four daughters, who remain in North Korea, do not know that their mother has left China and now lives in Seoul. Park says South Korea is “paradise” compared to North Korea.

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