Leonard Read, founder of FEE (Foundation for Economic Education), talked about different levels of leadership. The 3rd Level is when people start to seek you out for your counsel. If people aren’t seeking you out, then you can draw your own conclusions about your range of influence.

Although he was talking more about the spreading of ideas rather than real action, I suppose that Mr. Read would have said that we are approaching that 3rd Level of Leadership. We have numerous people coming to us, trying to get involved.

  • We have refugees tracking us down even though we don’t do any advertising.
  • We have volunteers constantly popping up, locally and from around the world.
  • We don’t have a communications team for media, but we still have many requests.
  • TNKR has been nominated for and won awards from organizations we have never heard of.
  • We are credible enough that I’m constantly sending out recommendation letters for volunteers.
  • I don’t consider myself to be much of a mentor, but many people have adopted me as one!

The last few days have been busy so I haven’t had time to update, so here are several in one!

Support TNKR

In this update:

  • Refugees in TNKR
  • Volunteer Leadership Academy
  • Media
  • Visitors and Potential Volunteers

Refugees in TNKR

Almost 400 NK refugees have studied in TNKR since March 2013. In addition, a few have taken up leadership roles or have gotten involved in other ways.

We always welcome them to the office and consider ourselves lucky enough to attract so many great people. Many of them have been or are involved with other organizations, and out of the many out there, they still seek us out.

Volunteer Leadership Academy

A few months ago we started the TNKR Volunteer Leadership Academy. We now have volunteers who are taking up leadership roles within TNKR, initiating  projects and activities.

Emily was a volunteer tutor with TNKR who is now in graduate school in the USA. You can expect to see some changes soon in this Website.

In 2013, when Eunkoo and I first started matching refugees with tutors, people would ask us about our Website. At that time, we weren’t trying to be a formal organization, so I didn’t bother with a Website. I don’t have Web design skills and figured I would make something pathetic.

In 2014, people kept asking me about our Website, so I made one. The response from people: “What kind of (lousy) Website is that?” Of course, none of those people offered to help make one. They were comparing us to organizations with $2 million budgets, asking why we couldn’t be more like them.

In 2016, we met Stephen Hattersly. Unlike the talkers giving suggestions, he built us a Website from scratch. He made it clear that I would be on my own from then, he has bailed us out in a couple of emergencies.

Now it is Emily Skalovsky who is taking action, not talking like so many people. And here’s her fundraiser for TNKR!


Maureen Byrne has extensive experience in data analytics. We met last week and will be talking again this week about ways she can help us build TNKR.

Vanessa Debra Renauld and Larah Walters are volunteer tutors in our program who are also the organizers of the Lending Ears meetup. They are now organizing their third event for TNKR. This is significant because many people will do something one time, such as make a donation or organize an event, but the next level is doing something continuously, reliably.



TNKR lacks a communications team, we don’t have any paid staff to handle media. Despite that, we receive a lot of attention from media. People ask me what is our secret, and it is simple. We do great work! Even reporters with large media outlets find us from time to time.


In addition, TNKR continues to do well when videos and articles related to it and its work are posted. The last several “Voices from the North” blog posts have reached number one or two, and the one about Trump was number one for several days.


Yes, the video isn’t viral, I know, I know, I know. But it is great that out of the 300 videos that have been posted on Yonhap’s new “North Korea Now,” this video introducing TNKR is in second place.


Visitors and potential volunteers

It is great to have so many visitors and potential volunteers finding us. There are so many great organizations doing great work, and despite our limitations, we still have people finding us.

Patrick is traveling to South Korea now. I met him back in 2014, when Yeonmi Park and I gave a speech in San Francisco. We have stayed in touch over the years, and he made sure he visited the TNKR office during his trip.


Esther is a high school student who hopes to join TNKR.


Peter will be joining TNKR as a consultant to help us with our finances. He hopes to raise more money than I have for TNKR. Which is fine with me!!!! His assistant helping him to defeat me will be Erin. 🙂


Youngmin Kwon AKA Mr. Eclipse.


Woori is joining TNKR, here’s her fundraiser! She was looking for a way to join TNKR–as a coach, tutor, volunteer, it didn’t matter, she was ready and kept trying until she found a way!

Tshering is joining TNKR, here’s her fundraiser! It is always a great moment when a new volunteer asks to take a photo with me. Most people complain or ask why I want the photo. And when the reverse happens, a volunteer asking me to join a photo with her? Priceless! 🙂

Team members, running an errand for TNKR!

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