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TNKR in USA Today: “North Korean defectors must overcome big challenge once free: Learn English”

“North Korean defectors must overcome big challenge once free: Learn English”

Thomas Maresca, Special to USA TODAY


PDF of tear sheets

2018-01-02 TNKR in USA Today (1)

2018-01-02 TNKR in USA Today (2)

New Year’s Resolutions

The following is the first blog post at the Korea Times by Casey Lartigue Jr.. The post reveals the New Year’s resolutions of three North Korean refugees.

Jihyun Park, a NK refugee and a widely known Human Right’s Activist in the UK, says there were no personal wishes or dreams when a New Year started in NK. In the 1990’s the New Year’s custom of sharing food and giving, disappeared because of the famine.
Her dream now is to help free her people from the oppression inflicted by the Kim regime.

Eunhee Park, remembers having no New Year’s resolutions in NK. She was just not thinking about tomorrow, but about having food for today. Her New Year’s resolution for the coming year is to settle down and keep improving her English and to live a happy life.

The third NK refugee stated that she had only one resolution for the New Year, and it was “to escape the hell” of NK.

In 2017, Sujin stated that she was struggling until she found TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees). In 2018, she hopes to continue to learn English through their well known English teaching program.

In conclusion, I believe that TNKR’s New Year’s resolution is to help NK refugees in 2018, by teaching or helping them to improve their English, in order to better their lives.

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2017-12-27 Eben’s Notes: “Lack of donations”

I remember back when I was a high school student that many lazy students would read Cliff’s Notes based on books rather than reading the original books. Of course, I was never one of those students, I would read the original texts.

But I feel like being a lazy reader because of Eben Appleton. Sometimes I feel like reading Eben’s Notes rather than my own Korea Times column. She reads my columns, then will write a summary on Facebook. I don’t know how many people read my column, but I can be sure that at least two people do so–Eben and the opinion page editor of the Korea Times. And sometimes I’m not so sure about my editor!

You can read her latest summary, and/or if you have time, you can read the original column. You decide: Eben’s Notes or Casey’s Column. 🙂

And here is Eben’s fundraiser for TNKR.



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2017-12-27 Best Rose visits TNKR

Eunhee Park joined TNKR in April 2015. These photos would have been impossible then.

We have met her many times–I can’t recall ever having a meeting where I didn’t feel inspired after meeting her. Every meeting has laughs, jokes, but she is also an extremely thoughtful lady, so eventually the topic gets serious.

She is a lady who wants to learn, enjoy her life, and do something that she can be proud of. 

And when she talks about TNKR, Eunkoo and I always feel like–“YES! THIS IS WHY WE STARTED TNKR.”

Eunhee is one of our Ambassadors, she has even raised money for us and wishes for the day we will have a strong organization. Here’s her fundraiser. She has raised more than 500,000 won for TNKR.

And here’s my Korea Times column last year about her, “Her name is Eun-hee Park.” She was the first refugee in TNKR who went from anonymous and nameless to becoming a public figure. In the last year she has appeared in numerous TV shows–and we were even on “On My Way to Meet You,” 이만갑 AKA 이제 만나러 갑니다 on 채널A” together.

Eunhee loves TNKR, and TNKR loves her. 🙂

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“You Can’t Save the World”–Finnish Translation by Jasmin Fosse


You can’t save the world–here’s what we can do | Casey Lartigue Jr & Eunkoo Lee | TEDxDongdaemun (Finnish Subtitles)


Eunkoo: Minä olin väärässä. Suurin osa ihmisistä ei halua myöntää, kun he ovat väärässä, mutta minua ei haitannut, koska tässä tapauksessa se näytti minulle valinnan merkityksen. Ennen kuin selitän, mistä minä olin väärässä, haluaisin jakaa yhden monista lausunnoista, jotka muuttivat minun ajattelua.

Eunhee Park, yksi 300:sta pohjoiskorealaisista pakolaisista, jonka kanssa olemme työskennelleet viimeisten neljän vuoden aikana, sanoi: “Elämäni muuttui TNKR:n ansiosta ja avasi minulle täysin uuden maailman. Minua ennen hävetti kertoa ihmisille, että olen pohjoiskorealainen, mutta nyt minulla on luottamusta olla piilottamatta minun kasvojani ja minun nimeäni. Joka päivä olen kiitollinen Caseylle ja Eunkoolle siitä, että he auttoivat minua kasvattamaan luottamusta itseeni.” Read more

Eben’s Notes

More than a year ago, I began writing summaries on fb attached to the links of my dedicated friends at TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees). This all-volunteer organization based In Seoul, Korea, teaches NK refugees English. In learning English, it offers those individuals from the darkest corner of the world, an opportunity to succeed in South Korea, a community that requires English in order for them to fully enjoy their newfound freedom.

In most cases, the links involve reading articles that at times are lengthy. In an attempt to raise awareness of the excellent English teaching program offered by TNKR, the group must constantly attempt to raise funds in order to sustain the NGO. Funds are their only source of income.

My goal has been to offer Cliff Note versions of lengthy articles to those who have chosen to disregard the detail of the original text.

Mr. Casey Lartigue Jr., along with Eunkoo Lee, co-founded TNKR. This versatile man along with his many other activities, writes a column for the Korea Times. I have enjoyed reading his excellent column along with the many posts telling about the activities that make the teaching program of TNKR a highly sought after organization by the refugees. “They find TNKR, TNKR does not find them”.

Director Lartigue states that he chooses to read my Cliff Note versions of his column, saying that many times he has forgotten much of the content. He feels that only his Editor and I read his articles in detail.

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2017-12-22 former Psychological Warfare Officer in NK visits TNKR

That’s right, Jang Jinsung dropped by the TNKR office on Friday. When he was in North Korea, his job was to spread propaganda in South Korea. He did his job so well that he was named a favorite Poet Propagandist of Kim Jong-Il. He later escaped to South Korea, he has written several books including Dear Leader. He is one of the refugees connected with TNKR who has agreed to sign books as part of TNKR’s Book Club. He is now on TNKR’s Board of Directors, the first time he has served on a board of directors. He has governments and strategists about North Korea around the world seeking his advice, so we are honored that he is such a fan of our humble organization. Here’s his interview with TNKR last year, in English and Korean. He is one of the refugees who has issued strong public testimonials on our behalf.


Jang Jinsung signing a couple of copies of his book for TNKR donors.

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2017-12-20 Daejin knows TNKR

So much love! On December 20, I was the guest speaker at a girl’s high school in Seoul. They welcomed me like I was a movie star.

During my speech, none of them fell asleep. Some of them were even nodding their heads “yes” when I made important points.

During Q&A, they had good questions. They had read many articles about TNKR and watched some of my interviews.

The topic was volunteerism in a global age. Some of the students say they want to volunteer with TNKR. What is clear is that these know what TNKR is and they are much more aware about issues related to NK refugees.

Support TNKR

I was at the center of attention, they treated me like a star!

The teachers seemed to love my speech, but they may want to clarify or explain my point that those high schoolers are usually too young to be useful volunteers. 🙂

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2017-12-24 Refugee Transition Adjustment Transformation Integration Process

Applicants and bilinguals who struggle with the TNKR pedagogical stratagem will be politely dislodged and ejected for an opposite transition process from TNKR.”

Support TNKR Read more

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2017-12-21 Who was more inspired!

How often do you have a meeting, with both sides declaring, “I’m so inspired by you!”

It happened last night, when I met Rola Brentlin (recommended to me by Nigel Ashford and Kerry Halferty Hardy) during her short trip to Korea. She posted on Facebook that she was inspired to learn about TNKR.  In my case, I was inspired that she took such an interest in TNKR, and then took that interest to the next level! She wants to help TNKR with funding! 

“Inspiring meeting with Casey Lartigue Jr. who runs an organisation helping North Korean refugees. I would very much like to help them with funding, any ideas for how we could raise some funds for this important work is welcome!”

We now have more than 60 volunteers and fans who have set up fundraisers. Recently we have had well-connected people express interest in helping us build up TNKR. That is always inspiring!

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