Katharina first came to the North Korea and China region in 1978, when she arrived here as a humanitarian worker of the charity organization Catholic Agency Caritas in Hong Kong. For almost thirty years, she has helped people in need and experienced extensive floods, fires and famine with them in the 1990s, during which many people perished. In 2006, she settled in Pyongyang, North Korea, where she worked as director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, under the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her focus here was primarily on the development of sustainable agriculture, and the improvement of the school system and overall living conditions.
She lectures as a visiting professor at Stanford University, California, where she held the seminar An Insight into North Korean Society in the years 2011-2013. Katharina speaks on the situation on the Korean Peninsula all over the world, she comments on current events in the region, lectures at conferences, and provides interviews.
In 2005, she was awarded the South Korean Justice and Peace Award for her dedicated work. In 2006, the Vatican awarded her the honorary title of Dame of Saint Gregory the Great. At the invitation of The Korea Society in New York, Katharina organized an exhibition of her collection of North Korean propaganda posters at the University Museum and Art Gallery in Hong Kong. Occasionally, she provides consultation for humanitarian and educational projects in the region, and also accompanies groups of tourists around North and South Korea.