Kaylin D. Womack blog post: “Thankful for TNKR”

I was fortunate enough to attend a local KOTESOL chapter fall event in Daejeon and hear a message from Eunkoo Lee and Casey Latrigue, co-founders of the Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) organization. TNKR is a life-changing program that raises money and helps North Koreans, who are able to escape the country, adjust to life in a democracy and tell their stories as a form of healing.

Check her blog for the rest of the post.




2018-01-20 Dream Team

Running a start-up organization can be tough. Maintaining what you have done, maintaining quality control while creating growth opportunities, trying to build for the future, paying the bills, raising money, handling all of the problems that come up, having to answer the many questions from volunteers and students, writing up emails that you know will get ignored, having people report you on Facebook as a spammer as you try to raise awareness, the usual rumors and clashes that come with being in any field. Sometimes it can be tough, and sometimes we reflect on why we are doing it all and if it is really worth it.

And then, as it happened a few days ago, a refugee will stop by the office to thank us! This young lady came in with a cake to celebrate her birthday, and thank us for all of the hard work we do to present opportunities for refugees to study. She is a real sweetheart, we have known her almost from the moment she was released into South Korean society almost four years ago. She started at the ABC level, studied like a maniac, and she is now so good that she can tease and even bully me in English. 🙂

Many people work in fields where they get more complaints than compliments from the people they interact with, or that they never hear from people who benefit from their work. In our case, we often hear from refugees, have so many wonderful testimonials.

Yes, she’s standing on my foot–both to 1) make herself look taller and 2) to stop me from also standing on my tippy-toes. 🙂

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2018-01-20 Book Discussion: Study Materials

Professor Tony Docan-Morgan has prepared study materials to get prepared for Saturday’s Book Club discussion. Find more information here.

Book Club Handout-2018-01-20

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2018-01-10 VOA report about TNKR, in English and Korean


A Seoul-based non-profit providing free English learning opportunities for North Korean refugees is gaining a lot of attention. Founded in 2013, the Teach North Korean Refugees Global Education Center (TNKR) has provided its services to over 320 North Korean refugee students. Kim Hyun-jin reports from Seoul.

The Teach North Korean Refugees Global Education Center (TNKR), located in a small corner of Seoul’s Mapo area. In a humble room of 15 pyeong, a North Korean woman in her 40s is studying English one-on-one with an American volunteer tutor.

She is still at the level of learning numbers in English, but she carefully listens to her tutor’s explanations and does her best to follow.

Founded in March 2013, TNKR, as its name suggests, has taught English to over 320 North Korean refugees.

Hear from Casey Lartigue, the co-founder of the organization: Read more


English Speech Contest #7

Teach North Korean Refugees will be holding its 7th English speech contest on February 24, 2018 from 2 pm at the Kim and Shin law firm near Myeongdong station (line 4).

7 North Korean refugees have been selected to give speeches in English.

Each speaker will have up to 10 minutes, addressing the theme, “My ‘Little Big’ Heroes.” Refugees applied for the contest by submitting short videos explaining their speeches. They are planning to discuss their ‘little big heroes’ they knew in North Korea, or met while they were escaping through or living in China, or special people they have met as they settled down in South Korea or other countries.

The speeches are moving and promise to open your eyes up to the struggles, experiences and challenges facing North Korean refugees. You will see even small support from people from around the world can encourage them as they make their way in the world outside of North Korea.

To join this uplifting event, see the payment details below:


Payment option 1: Eventbrite

Volunteers, donors and fundraisers: $10, bring one friend for free.

General admission: $15


Payment option 2: Bank transfer

Volunteers, donors and fundraisers: 10,000 won, bring one friend for free.

General admission: 15,000 won

-Bank account: (Woori Bank) 1005-802-774890

-Name on account: 티엔케이알(TNKR)

Email CJL@alumni.harvard.edu to have your RSVP confirmed


Payment option 3: PayPal 

Volunteers, donors and fundraisers: $12, bring one friend for free

General admission: $17 at Paypal https://www.paypal.me/loveTNKR


Support this contest by making a donation to our “Matching donation” opportunity.

Previous speech contest winners:

Contest 1, February 28, 2015: Sungju Lee, author of the memoir, “Every Falling Star.”

Contest 2, August 22, 2015: Sehyek Oh, North Korean refugee activist

Contest 3, February 27, 2016: Eunsun Kim, author of “A Thousand Miles to Freedom.”

Contest 4, August 20, 2016: Chulman Choi, entrepreneur

Contest 5, February 25, 2017: Cherie Yang, TV personality

Contest 6, August 26, 2017: Youngmi Park, college student

Contest 7, February 24, 2018: ?


Step by step directions:


(Myeongdong exit 4, walk straight about two minutes, State Tower (Namsan) will be on your left.

English map


Korean map



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2018-01-13 Eben Notes: “What a Wonderful Night”

Eben Appleton wrote: It was a special night for Teach North Korean Refugees, TNKR, when TNKR fans Sandra Durnick and Amanda Sheffy hosted a fundraiser for the all-volunteer group at the Hidden Cellar located in Seoul, Korea.

That’s what happens when a community rallies around a group and supports their humble project of helping North Korean refugees by teaching them English.

TNKR depends solely on fundraisers in order to continue their English teaching program. How much was donated? Over 1 million won! An additional amount of 340,000 won, was won in a final raffle by TNKR Academic Coordinator, Janice Kim. After winning, she immediately donated the money to the fundraiser. TNKR Co-founder, Casey Lartigue Jr., pulled the final raffle ticket and was pleasantly surprised by her donation. Thank you Janice Kim!

Director Lartigue felt he should have said more about TNKR during the party fundraiser, but instead spent the entire evening appreciatively thanking those many who were in attendance.

Personally, I wish I had been there to see the excitement of my many friends at TNKR. I realize the fundraiser will help them to sustain their amazing organization for another year.

Tomorrow will be a busy, back to the old grind, kind of day at the office. I am certain those at TNKR are still “walking on air” from the night before.

Congratulations, dear friends, and thanks to all supporters who know a good thing when they see it.

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2018-01-13 What a Beautiful Night: TNKR fundraiser by Sandra and Amanda

One of TNKR’s underlying goals is to build a community of support around North Korean refugees. We do this by connecting them with volunteer tutors and coaches.

What happens when a community rallies around TNKR? That’s what it felt like at the Hidden Cellar when TNKR fans Sandra Durinick and Amanda Sheffy hosted a fundraiser for us last night. They rounded up a team that included Samantha Murphy, Kim Noriko Durinick, Jamila Charles, Reza Carr, Jay Wiltz, Hannah Ruppert, Renee Dupuis, Tom Moran, Jamie Kembrey, 송인환 and Hyeona Hong. (Thanks to Kim Noriko Durinick for adding the names.)

I should have said more about TNKR, but my entire speech was thanking everyone. TNKR volunteers, our new fans, everyone rallying around our humble project helping North Korean refugees.

It was a special night in TNKR history, one that we will never forget. In all, the team raised more than 1 million won. It was our special night, because we won an additional 340,000 won in a final raffle—I pulled the number of TNKR Academic Coordinator Janice Kim. She promptly donated the money—I can’t promise that I would have donated it if I had pulled my own number!

Today we were back to the grindstone, holding two orientation sessions for incoming tutors and students. It was tough, doing this on a Sunday, after working at TNKR for every day so far this year. But we were all walking on air after last night’s wonderful fundraiser.

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2018-01-12 Feedback and Speaking Out

Friday was a busy day!

* TNKR Senior Fellow Tony Docan-Morgan held 1:1 feedback sessions with coaches in Track 2 (public speaking).

* TNKR Ambassador Eunhee Park gave a fantastic talk at a private event at our office.

Support TNKR 

*** Read more

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TNKR’s Million Won Fundraising Club

TNKR’s Million Won Fundraising Club


Cherie Yang, Special Ambassador, “탈북민 영어교육프로그램 모금

Sungju Lee, Ambassador, “Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee (autograph)



Casey Lartigue, TNKR co-founder and International Director, “Casey Lartigue’s Matching Donation Alert” “Casey Lartigue’s fundraiser for TNKR,” “KC’s 2017 Birthday Matching Grant,”

Dave Fry, TNKR Assistant Director and tutor, “Help me help North Korean Refugees

Tony Docan-Morgan, Senior Fellow, “Tony’s TNKR Birthday Fundraiser! 🙂,” “I’ll Mail You Korean Stickers!” “Thanksgiving, Black Friday, & Freedom

Youngmin Kwon, Academic Adviser and tutor, “Support North Korean Refugees & Human Rights!

Janice Kim. Academic Coordinator and tutor, “Janice’s 30th Birthday Fundraiser for TNKR!

Spencer Kim, Intern Coordinator and tutor, “Fund TNKR’s Future


Renee Cummins, November 2016 party


Sandra Durinick & Manda Sheffy, January 2018 fundraiser