2016-11-21 Help is on the way!

TNKR held its 51st Language Matching session this past Saturday. We have had more than 450 volunteer tutors participate in the program. In addition to tutoring, some have also helped in other ways with marketing, social media, fundraising, administrative tasks.

We have had many great groups of tutors–but it seems this course will be something special. So many ideas are coming from them, they apparently will get involved at a deeper level. My iPhone has been lit up like a Christmas tree the last week with so many messages coming through.

One of the volunteers visited the TNKR office last night to discuss ways she could get involved and she also made suggestions about ways we could upgrade the way we run Matching sessions. What I really like is that she is trying to understand how we operate, then making helpful suggestions that make sense for our limited capacity.

Thanks, Georgi, welcome to TNKR!



2016-11-22 Korea Times Roundtable discussion

I participated in an extremely lively Korea Times Roundtable discussion today. That’s what happens when you put writers and journalists together–everyone was interrupting each other. There were many thoughtful comments and analysis, despite the many interruptions.

Michael Breen
Donald Kirk
Oh Young-Jin
Casey Lartigue


Here’s my latest column from a Korea Times Roundtable discussion last week.
“Is Donald Trump a racist?”
by Casey Lartigue Jr.
The Korea Times
November 30, 2016.
The other participants and columns:
“Me and My Liberal Tribe” by Michael Breen
“Media mix facts with views” by Donald Kirk
“How to make Trump great president” by Oh Young-jin




Three Korea Times columnists speak on the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president in a roundtable hosted by Chief Editorial Writer Oh Young-jin, third from left, at the Times conference room, last week. From left are Michael Breen, Don Kirk, Oh and Casey Lartigue Jr. Oh’s column, titled “How to make Trump a great president,” was previewed online and will be published in Thursday’s edition of the newspaper. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

2016-11-21 TNKR Zumbathon, hosted by Julie Schuldt at Gettysburg College

This morning I received a notification that TNKR summer volunteer Julie Schuldt had held a Zumbathon at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. It is stunning to look at photos of people jumping around, in the effort to raise money for TNKR!

When Eunkoo Lee and I started TNKR in March 2013, we didn’t have long-term plans. We just thought it would be great to connect North Korean refugees with volunteer tutors who could help them improve their English. More than three years later, we have an organization we can be really proud of, knowing that so many refugees respect what we are doing. We have had more than 450 volunteers join TNKR over the last few years. We are so delighted to have so many people give so much of their time to help refugee learners in our humble project.

Julie was a volunteer with us during the summer, mainly helping with writing. She has remained in contact, letting us know how much she admires TNKR. I tell all volunteers to use their skills and interests to help TNKR. If you’re great at Social Media, do that with us! You want to market something to the world? Take on TNKR as a project! Great at (or want to try) fundraising? Use TNKR as an opportunity to take an organization out of poverty! If you like to exercise? Yes, hold a Zumbathon, as Julie did!

I’m not exactly sure what Zumba is, I have never tried it, but looking at the photos, I would have loved being there.

Julie is back in the USA, she could have chosen many worthy organizations around the world–she chose TNKR! Now many people who would have never heard of us have raised money for TNKR. It is one of those wonderful moments I would have never imagined when Eunkoo Lee and I started TNKR in 2013.



See below for more photos and the German translation by Juliana

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2016-11-21 Her name is Eunhee Park!!!

Eunhee Park, a member of TNKR’s Refugee Leadership Team, visited the office today to chat. What a great conversation! I am always inspired by her passion for life and joy of freedom.

She is still the only refugee in TNKR history to go from Track 1 only (for English study) to Track 2 (public speaking). Here’s the column I wrote a few months ago about her incredible transformation.


But it wasn’t all serious! She loved the figurines from tvN! If you are wondering what to buy for her birthday, you have a great hint based on the photo!


She had me laughing out loud!


2016-11-21 TNKR Special Ambassador

Cherie Yang, the super special Special Ambassador of TNKR, was a featured guest on a Korean televison show. Here she is, talking about adjusting to living in the USA.

This morning, I studied the clip along with my volunteer Korean tutor, Yun Ji Young!


Cherie Yang, super special Special Ambassador of TNKR!

2016-11-20 Korea Times–Partnership planning meeting

As of August 2016, Teach North Korean Refugees and The Korea Times have been partners. Today we had a meeting to discuss ways we can work together more closely in the future. Best of all, we came out of it with one clear action item and a better understanding about their expectations.

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2016-11-19 “Thanks to Amazing TNKR volunteers” (Matching #51)

1The Teach North Korean Refugees Global Education Center (TNKR) held its 51st English Language Matching session yesterday. We began in March 2013, more than 250 refugees and almost 500 volunteers have joined us.

Specific comments from refugees:

  • I arrived in 2011, I will study nursing when I enter a university next year. This was my first time to see so many foreign teachers, I didn’t know there were so many people from so many different countries in Korea. It was so many amazing to meet them, it was so exciting. I want to learn English very hard so I can speak with them all.
  • I arrived in 2015, I am studying at a refugee alternative school, I plan to go to a university later. I want to be able to communicate with people from around the world. I hope my English will be good enough that I will able to teach English as a volunteer later. Thank you so much, TNKR, for giving me this opportunity. At first I was so nervous, this was my first Matching session. I live outside of Seoul so I wasn’t sure I would be able to find tutors, but my wish came true! I am very thankful to my tutors, thank you Casey and Eunkoo, I will do my best. I have five tutors to study with.
  • I arrived in 2009, I am now studying political science at a university. 3I am preparing for TOEIC and I need to be able to understand English because of my university classes. At first, I was thinking to get one or two tutors, but I selected three. Thank you to all of the volunteers and TNKR for making this possible. The mood in the session was active, people were smiling and happy. That made me happy. I met the tutors I wanted to study with, based on the resumes, so I am really satisfied with this session.
  • I arrived in 2006, I am now studying social welfare at a university. I need to study English to improve my grammar and speaking. I am amazed at how many volunteers showed up here, thank you to TNKR for organizing this.
  • I arrived here in 2007, I want to study conversation, speaking, reading and writing. I am studying social welfare, so I will need English so I can help others. I love TNKR, thank you so much for the many volunteers who came here today. I originally thought I would select two tutors, but I chose four! This is a really great program for refugees.
  • I arrived in South Korea in 2010, this will be my last time to use Korean when I talk to TNKR volunteers. I want to express myself completely. I need English because of my major. I am very thankful to volunteers and to TNKR. When I first met Casey, I told him that I thought one tutor would be enough, but I selected three.
  • I arrived in South Korea in 2015, I am studying systems engineering at a university. I need to be able to write essays, engage in converation. I want to say thank you to all of you for volunteering, I hope to gain knowledge of English.
  • I arrived in South Korea in 2014, I want to study pronuncation, listening, and writing. Next year I will take the TOEIC test, I want to study abroad. Thank you to Casey, Eunkoo and the volunteers. I am so happy I returned, i can see that the program has gotten even more organized. TNKR now has its own office so things have gotten more stable. I hope to keep returning.
  • I arrived in South Korea in 2010, I am so thankful to the volunteers. I will be studying abroad, so I hope my tutors will be able to help me get prepared. Thank you so much to Casey and Eunkoo, you have created a wonderful program for refugees, I hope I can meet you very often to show my gratitude.
  • I am South Korean, I want to study English so I can communicate with Casey. I am not interested in deep studying, I just hope that I will be able to communicate with people so I can share more information about TNKR. I am very thankful to the volunteers, I have been volunteering with TNKR, this was my first time as a student So I am so thankful, I hope to have a long term connection with TNKR.

Some random thoughts:

  • Wow, what an active group of tutors. At orientation, the tutors were talking so much, Eunkoo was shocked. Then last night, we got so many messages and suggestions from them! We often regret that volunteers aren’t more active, but with them being so more active, the saying “Be careful what you wish for, it may come true” comes to mind!
  • Recruiting: Most of the tutors said they found us through Facebook and Google. A few found out simply from others clicking “like” on our activities and “going” to our events. So if you don’t know what else to do to help, clicking “like” and sharing our activities can help. Also, many people found us through Google, so I need to find ways to make us more visible through the internet outside of facebook. I have heard of SEO, but I may need to focus on mastering it…
  • The refugees expressed their amazement about so many volunteers being there to help them. A few refugees who had thought about having just one or two tutors increased that to three or four after seeing those lovely volunteers!
  • We had 17 volunteer tutors–2 of them are returnees. We are alway5s happy to have many new volunteers, but it is always great when we have veterans return. I also admire them for being willing to go through the selection process a second time.
  • Yesterday was one of our biggest sessions, the tutors were understanding! We have had a few large sessions before, but in one case, the tutors seemed to be ready to stage a mutiny! We wrapped up the session–introductions from 17 tutors and 10 learners, refresher about expectations, group photo, collecting documents, etc., in 2 and a half hours.
  • Our interns and office assistants were all out yesterday, so thanks to Amy Shin for stepping in at the last moment as our special assistant.
  • After dinner with tutors and refugees, TNKR’s co-directors went back to the office, did paperwork, established separate Kakao groups for tutors and refugees, and connected tutors and refugees so they could begin studying.
* * *
Information about the 51st cohort of tutors
* 40 people applied as tutors
* 17 made it to the Matching session last Saturday (1 cancellation)
Tutors hail from:
USA: 9
Canada: 2
England: 2
South Korea: 2
Scotland: 1
Brunei: 1
Gender breakdown:
Females: 13
Males: 4
Have you met NKs before:
No: 11
Yes: 4
2 are returning tutors
How did you learn about TNKR:
Facebook/Google 8
Casey Lartigue 2
Friend 2
Media 2
Meetup 1
Angloinfo 1
Volunteer opportunities website 1

Are you willing to donate or raise money for TNKR?
10: Yes
5: Maybe
2: No.

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2016-11-18 TNKR Christmas Party planning

This will be TNKR’s second Christmas party.

Save the date for December 17, from 6 to 8 pm, in the Seocho-dong area.

We will be seeking volunteers to help us the day of the event.

More details coming soon.









2016-11-18 TNKR Success Story

One of the refugees who joined Teach North Korean Refugees shortly after she arrived in South Korea returned to TNKR to get prepared for tomorrow’s orientation.

She has joined TNKR about four or five times in the last two years.

Compared to two years ago:

* She is extremely focused on why and how she wants to learn English. So we don’t have to give her a lecture about the importance of self-studying.
* She can see that TNKR has gone through many changes and updates.
* She was at the ABC level, now she can hold a conversation.



TNKR checklist

* Folk music? Yes! http://tiny.cc/tbxvgy(Lindy Vopnfjörð)

* Rap music? Yes! http://tiny.cc/lgxvgy

* Refugee testimonial? Yes! http://tiny.cc/xgxvgy (Praise JU)

* South Korean testimonial? Yes! http://tiny.cc/khxvgy(@Amy Kim)

* Links to donate? Yes http://tiny.cc/sqxvgy (Network for Good) and Yes! http://tiny.cc/7qxvgy(Atlas Network) (designate it to TNKR)

* TV special? Yes! http://tiny.cc/bayvgy (can send special by request)

* Film Festivals Yes! http://tiny.cc/oixvgy and Yes again! http://tiny.cc/wjxvgy (Kiyun Sung)

* Original documentary? Yes! http://tiny.cc/kkxvgy(@Haewon, 임종령, James Maxwell Milne)

* Music concert? Yes! https://www.facebook.com/events/404628463259589/

* Human rights cause? Yes! http://tiny.cc/fpxvgy (Hwang Cheol)

* Speech at Harvard University? Yes! http://tiny.cc/ypxvgy (Casey Lartigue Jr.)

* CMS? http://tiny.cc/8rxvgy(Eunkoo Lee)

* Featured interview? Yes! http://tiny.cc/ysxvgy (Sophie Jieun Shin)

* First-class website? http://teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org (Stephen Hattersley and Lindsay McEwen)

* Membership http://tiny.cc/vuxvgy

* Activities http://tiny.cc/mvxvgy

* Brochure? http://teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org/2016/10/tnkr-brochure/ Melodie Thiriez

* Media coverage http://tiny.cc/7vxvgy (HTML) and http://tiny.cc/gxxvgy(PDF)

Anything else?