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Katharina Hesse

Katharina Hesse is a Beijing-based photographer who has worked throughout Asia for nearly two decades. Her work primarily focuses on China’s social concerns, among them youth and urban culture, religion and North Korean refugees.

The woman in this photo is Kim Jeong-Ya (a pseudonym), 67, from Yanji, China. Ms. Kim is one of a handful of Chinese activists from this region who have put their lives at risk to help neighboring North Korean refugees. Ms. Kim has dedicated her life to creating a safe passage to South Korea for North Koreans via mainland China. She has been imprisoned twice by North Korean agents operating in China.

The Allard Prize Photo Competition jury selected this photo as it captures the image of a woman with extraordinary courage and with dedicated commitment to human rights.