The Asia Leadership Trek invited me to join for a trip to the DMZ. It was a surprising moment when the US military person giving us a special tour recognized me. He he loves the work that TNKR does. He also said that with the use of facial recognition, the North Korean soldiers may be able to identify me.

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TNKR joined the Asia Leadership Trek during its three week tour across Asia. Members of the Trek are students at the Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Medical School, Tufts Fletcher School.

Event 1:

* TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue kicked off the event by introducing TNKR’s history and mission.

* TNKR Special Ambassador Ken Eom gave a new speech this morning about his adjustment to South Korea.

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Books (in English) are from 1,000 to 5,000 won.

1-2 pm, refugees only

2-5 pm, open to the public

5 pm, all books are 1,000 won each.

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The bad news? Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) had the biggest Matching session in its history–11 refugees, 20 tutors. We only have 22 chairs at our office, had only 4 volunteers ready to handle the session. Uh-oh.

The good news? TNKR had the biggest Matching session in its history. That’s even though I almost killed TNKR by expecting all volunteers to make an attempt to engage in fundraising.

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We have had many ideas about ways to expand TNKR, but we weren’t ready financially and internally. At times, I felt like a man running down the street, asking others if they want to join me build an organization I was carrying on my back.

At last, we’re an official NGO, volunteers have pledged to try to raise money and they are coming up with ideas–and pledging to get them done.

We will soon be launching a new Website related to TNKR. Stay tuned!

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I held several emergency orientation sessions this week to get prepared for this Saturday’s Matching session. Holding group sessions is more efficient, but I prefer meeting with people individually or in small groups.

This duo cried twice during orientation–once when I told a story about one of the current refugees in the program, and again when they learned that I used to collaborate with Yeonmi Park. Read more

I had lunch with my former podcast co-host Yeonmi Park, her hubby Zeke and TNKR student Jenny. Wow! I think we talked for five years in three hours. A lot of laughs, banter, discussion, even some tears when I shared some sad news with them. They were still talking after I left, I had to get back to TNKR to meet with a tutor and a fellow tvN Little Big Hero.

It was my first meeting with Zeke, we hit it off, it seems he has been here all along. Of course, it was fantastic to see Yeonmi. We worked together closely back in 2014 before she gained international attention.


Another tvN “Little Big Hero” visited the TNKR office today.

He has a learning disability (tragic story) but has learned to play the cello. If he likes you, then he will give you a heart sign. When he performed at the TNKR Christmas concert, he did that several times before and after he performed.

Even a grouchy guy like me can’t help but join him.

Do we have any TNKR tutors who majored in special education?


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Yonhap did a very nice feature on TNKR. It is difficult to be featured by Yonhap, they report on breaking news and choose selected features.

The Korea Herald reprinted the Yonhap article yesterday, but with fewer photos.

Yonhap also did a previous profile on TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue (in Korean), in late 2015.


One of the best pieces of advice from a former president of Harvard University: “Get to know your classmates.”

Last night I attended the Harvard Networking Night. It turned out that there was more fighting than Networking, so not everyone takes Derek Bok’s advice. Still, one edupreneur offered to provide education services free of charge to TNKR students.

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