You can find more information about the NGOs mentioned in Chance Dorland’s report.

The NGOs

* Justice for North Korea (JFNK)WebsiteFacebook
* Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG): Facebook 1, Facebook 2, in Korean
* Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR): WebsiteFacebook
* Unification Media Group (UMG) WebsiteFacebook
* Association for Family Members of the KAL Kidnapping Victims
(KAL 1969) Wikipedia
* International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK): WebsiteFacebook
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Email lists (sign up to learn about volunteer opportunities)

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Blog posts: Emma Foster, Casey Lartigue Jr.,

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“The International Volunteers Workshop: Opportunities to Help North Koreans” was a tremendous success, in terms of measuring success among events.

  • A lot of people were there? Check!
  • Attendees said they enjoyed it? Check!
  • Most attendees stayed from start to finish? Check!!!
  • I led the event without upsetting/offending a lot of people? Pending! Still waiting for feedback. 🙂

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I say it was successful in terms of events because holding the event is just part 1. The key is the follow up. We hosted the event hoping that volunteers would find organizations they could assist and that organizations would find people who could help them overcome their budget struggles and lack of manpower.


Session 1: Andrei Lankov delivered the keynote address. He had the challenge that speakers have at not knowing the audience, so I tried to make it a bit easier by finding out how much attendees knew about him. Of the 230 people who registered in advance, 135 (60%) had never heard of him, 95 (40%) had. And I suspect that some who had heard of him had not read many things by him. So I let him know that in advance because that would be an indicator for him about the audience and the approach he should take.

Session 2: Two North Korean refugees gave testimony and a third introduced her organization. By a coincidence that would give a conspiracy theorists or a fortune teller a heart attack, 135 (60%) of those who registered in advance had never met a North Korean refugee, while 95 (40%) had done so.

“Heartbreaking but inspiring” is what one of the attendees wrote to me this morning about what she heard.

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Session 3: Six different representatives of NGOs presented. It was interesting to hear about the different activities. Even though I am aware of some of them, I got to learn about each one of them more deeply. The most shocking thing is that most people stayed to listen to the NGOs, and that people asked many questions even though the entire Workshop lasted more than 5 hours!

Other thoughts:

  1. So many people arrived on time that we were able to start on time. At one point, we were actually ahead of schedule! Unbelievable.
  2. Volunteers at the Workshop were on the ball. Even when I forgot 5to announce at times when no photographs were allowed, they were monitoring people with cameras. Few details were overlooked, based on the many Kakao messages I was getting during the event reminding me to make various announcements.
  3. We had almost 200 people show up, but according to our team monitoring registration, there were 74 cancellations and no-shows. Wow! Enough of them to have had their own huge event! I will check the final numbers, because crowd counts are always touchy,  and sometimes it depends on who does the counting. For example, some people don’t include speakers and volunteers, but some others do.
  4. The best feedback that I got was from a few of our volunteers who said seeing people outside of TNKR introduced to our program made them realize how special our little project is.
  5. We had an extremely diverse crowd. I haven’t sorted out the final numbers yet, but we had people from 46 different countries sign up in advance.
  6. This past weekend was busy crazy…

Friday night, visited a refugee in the hospital.
Saturday morning, speech to the Asia Leadership Institute
Sunday, International Volunteers Workshop
Monday morning, wrote my Korea Times column

Get up, get dressed, get to the Jonggak subway (line 1) area.

  1. If you are coming via subway then the easiest way is to get to Jonggak subway exit 3-1. (Yes, exit 3 is also possible, but 3-1 is the easiest although you will need to pay attention when you are exiting the subway).



2. After leaving exit 3-1, then walk straight for about 20-30 seconds. The road will look like this.



3. At the corner, get ready to turn right.



4. You will see this handy guide for directions. Turn right at this point.



5. After your right turn in number 4, the road will look like this. Walk straight for about 30 seconds. Keep your eyes open, look for the Centermark hotel on your left. Another key landmark is McDonalds.



6. Look at the Centermark hotel. Then look to your right. You will see a Green building on the right. YOU WANT TO GET TO THAT BUILDING! (And if we have any volunteers willing to paint it, let me know)



7. Look both ways, walk slowly, look out for the cars and pedestrians with one eye, but keep your other eye on that green building. The name of the building is in Chinese, but yes, walk up to room 301 to join the opening ceremony.

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A few notes:

  1. I don’t know about parking.
  2. The address on the building could be useful information to drivers.
  3. It is also possible to get to the opening ceremony from the Anguk subway (line 3). But it takes more time and is a bit confusing…

Join Teach North Korean Refugees, Justice for North Korea and Transitional Justice Working Group for the largest gathering of volunteers coming together to find ways to help North Koreans and North Korean refugees.

This event is scheduled for March 20 at the National Assembly of South Korea from 1 to 6 pm.

If you have been thinking about getting involved with helping North Korean refugees then here’s your chance. After this workshop is over, you will have a deeper understanding about North Korea, North Korean refugees and to learn about opportunities for you to get directly involved.

* Andrei Lankov, author of The Real North Korea, has confiirmed he will deliver the keynote address. This will be a great chance to hear from and talk with someone who has been studying about North Korea for almost three decades.

* We also have two North Korean refugees scheduled to speak at the workshop, including Eunsun Kim, author of “A Thousand Miles to Freedom.”

* You will also get to hear directly from representatives of several NGOs actively involved with helping North Korean refugees in Seoul and other places around the world.

You can reserve a space here.

Admission is 10,000 won per person, payable at the door.

workshop timeline

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Reasons to join the International Volunteers Workshop on March 20, 2016, from 1 to 6 pm?

1) VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: The workshop features some leading NGOs introducing their major activities. So you will have any opportunities to get directly involved with helping organizations helping survivors of, current escapees trying to get to freedom and those still trapped by the NK regime.

2) EXPERT INTRODUCTION: Yes, the one and only Andrei Lankov will be kicking off the event. He was a student in North Korea in the 1980s, the author of several books on North Korea, and as expert as you can get when it comes to analyzing North Korea.

3) NORTH KOREAN REFUGEE SPEAKERS: Two different speakers, including the winner of a recent English speech contest featuring North Korean refugees, will be speaking.

4) NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: The workshop will be held at South Korea’s parliament. There aren’t many English-language events hosted at the parliament.

5) LOCATION IS EASY TO FIND!; Here are the step by step directions.

6) YOU ARE BEING INVITED! As long as you are not a spy or a kooky conspiracy theorist, then you are invited to join us.

7) COOKIES, NK STYLE: A prominent North Korean refugee will be selling cookies at the workshop!

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What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation?^^ Please share this with your social media, let others know about thiis great opportunity to interact with several leading and effective NGOs during the same workshop. Bring a friend with you, this is an international event, anyone who wants to help North Korean refugees as well as those still blocked from freedom by the North Korean leaders.

No obligation to remain the entire time, 10,000 won admission so come and leave when you want.

Check out then SHARE the cool promo video done by Kiyun Sung.

Register here:
More info here:

I was interviewed live on the radio earlier. Thanks to an alert fan for sending me this link/snapshots from “Inside Out Busan” hosted by @Tim Chatellier.

I also heard that TBS eFM aired a segment by Chance Dorland about the speech contest.

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I spoke at a fantastic event organized by Ana Dols. I met her on Feb 2 when I was a featured speaker at an event introducing (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees to the American Women’s Club.

I said then during Q&A: I hope this will be a movement rather than a moment. At the end of the event, Ana told me that she wanted to invite me to speak at an event.

27 days later, I was speaking at a Women Lab Korea event. Ana is a newcomer to NK refugee issues, but she organized a really smart panel.

Sunghoon Kris Moon to give an overview about North Korea.
Ken Eom to discuss his own escape from North Korea and his adjustment.
Casey Lartigue to discuss the way (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees (now the North Korean Refugee Education Center at AOU) helps North Korean refugees improve themselves.
Rachel Stine to discuss rescuing North Koreans trying to escape to freedom.

I learned some things and also had some things I already knew shaken from the cobwebs in the archives of my mind. I have now given so many speeches that I am ready to get to Q&A to hear what people think. Of course many audiences want to talk about titillating stories about the leaders of the NK regime, I try to be patient, count to 10, remember there was a day I was in their shoes, then answer while trying to encourage them to think about something practical they can do.

It seemed that I had a connection with many people in the room. Sunghoon Kris Moon showed one of Yeonmi Park‘s speeches. Of course, Yeonmi was Ambassador of TNKR and we hosted a podcast together.

And we discovered some personal connections.

Rachel Stine was one of the volunteer tutors back when I was the International Adviser to the Mulmangcho School.

Several of our current and past volunteers were at the session. Peter Daley is Mr. Reliable, coming to many of our events in addition to being a tutor and coach in our program. Renee Cummins remains one of our biggest cheerleaders. Eileen Chong has kind of snuck up on me, coming to many of our events, being a coach in our program, helping us with graphics.

Many others. But the woman of the hour was Ana Dols. I meet many people at events who say they want to organize an event. There is a lot of happy talk at events, with people saying they will do one thing or another, then when they leave the event, it seems they forget to do most of what they have said. But not Ana. She followed through, kept the speakers updated, then she got it done! Don’t call her a by-stander!

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Six North Korean refugees spoke at the third English speech contest organized by the Teach North Korean Refugees project in the North Korean Refugee Education Center at American Orientalism University.

It was a wonderful occasion, here are some of my random thoughts and observations.

* Although we left the topic wide open by allowing contestants to address any part related to North Koreans, the speakers addressed practical ways. Experts and “save-the-world” types may have been disappointed. But then, the speakers probably took the challenge seriously because they also had to present an actual plan, rather than intellectual gymnastics so common of intellectuals and big talkers.

* Although it was a speech contest in which refugees were expected to present plans, they still managed to sneak in some wonderful anecdotes. 🙂

* We got wonderful feedback from attendees and volunteers. This was our best organized contest. Thanks so much too our volunteers. We were so organized that I was

* I loved watching the coaches of the contestants, seems they were more stressed out than the contestants. I can see the contest helped build a bond between the coaches and the contestants. The English tutoring part of the program also builds strong bonds, don’t get me wrong, but as Samuel Johnson said, “The threat of execution sharpens the mind.” Coaches and tutors knew the big test was coming, so they were focused!

* We had about 85 attendees, 23 or no-shows, raised about 256,000 won. That’s about 3,000 won per person. From now, I will charge admission at events rather than relying on donations.

* The speeches were great, but talking with refugees after the contest, I really wish they could give their “natural talks.” I proposed some themes for the fourth contest, Eunkoo Lee enthusiastically agreed with one of them. What’s your suggestion as the theme for the speech contest in August 2016?

* One of the contestants was slightly above the ABC level when we met her last year. I think she has studied with about five different coaches during the last year. What a difference a year has made! She didn’t win the contest, but we could see how proud she was to even compete in such a contest!

* For anyone keeping track, we have had three contests, none of the grand prize winners used PPT. About half of the contestants have used PPT, so it could be 50-50 coin flip, but still, the three grand prize winners have all spoken without using PPT.

* Unlike last year when several audience members rudely and stupidly talked to each other during the contest, they were really quiet and respectful this time. The only people to talk (actually, whisper) were two of the refugees.

* The audience was so quiet, I decided to open the floor to questions while the judges were deciding. I quickly regretted it because audience members wanted to ask questions of the refugees, apparently not realizing they had just been through a stressful experience and probably didn’t want to engage in Q&A. Lesson learned, I won’t do that again unless we have the refugees leave the room.

* I was happy not to be a judge of this contest. Thanks so much to the judges for having the courage to render their decisions, knowing we didn’t have a police escort for them…

* Next speech contest: Either August 20 or 27, we will talk with the law firm soon to book the date.

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Greetings! Our team has been getting prepared for the upcoming English speech contest featuring North Korean refugees.

* The 7 refugee speakers have been getting prepared by working with speech coaches.

* We have 13 volunteers signed up to help at the event. We are really thankful to have so many people willing to help out!

To make the event even smoother, attendees can do a few things:

* Arrive early. Between 1:30 to 1:50. Volunteers will be there from 1 pm to help setup the room. Doors will be open to attendees from 1:30 pm. It will take time to process everyone who arrives, so the earlier you can arrive, the better. Your ticket is valid until 1:50 pm to be guaranteed of a seat. Arrive early, arrive early, arrive early, then we can finish early…

We will do our best to wrap up by 4:30… which is more likely if people arrive early and we can start on time…

* Print out your ticket. You can help things go much faster by printing out your ticket and handing it to our volunteers handling registration. At the least, have it handy on your phone by taking a photo of it now (in case you lose wi-fi at that key moment). But it would be better to have the print out.

* Look at the directions now. A lot of people wait until the morning of an event, or as they are on their way, before looking at directions. We have some volunteers who have agreed to be guides, but you can help by being aware in advance. Here:

If you know you are the type to get lost, then plan to arrive early.

When you arrive in the building, report to reception, tell them you are going to “TNKR.” That is what they have previously coded for the contest.

* Disruptions: Let’s do our best to avoid disruptions. If you know you need to leave early, then please sit at the back of the room so you can leave without bumping into someone speaking. When entering the room, especially if you are late, please don’t walk in talking loudly, “HI EVERYBODY, I’M HERE.” And of course don’t be the person with their phone ringer on during the event (someone please remind me to make this announcement, and to turn off my phone).


During the contest:

* Respect the speakers: That means, be quiet when the speakers are talking. There is no excuse for side discussions, chit-chat. I was truly amazed by a couple of idiots talking during our last contest. If my angry look could have killed, it would have wiped out their entire families.

It will be the first public speech for some of the refugees. If you need to have a separate conversation, then leave the room. You can save your questions, comments and jokes for the time that I will be speaking after the contestants have all finished. Bring it on, I can take it!

* Dress code: Business casual. But what does that really mean? Be aware that the event is scheduled to be recorded, photos taken. So don’t wear anything you’d be embarrassed to have posted on Facebook. If you show up looking scandalous, I’ll call your mom to let her know that you showed up Business Clown instead of Business Casual.

Donations: There is no admission fee for the event, but we will have a donation box at the entrance. Please make a donation to help us with this project. As I will explain at the contest, we are planning an exciting follow up event for which we have no sponsor. So that means, bring cash to make a donation of any amount…

Parking: If you plan on driving, then send me an email with your name and license plate number. I don’t know how many parking spaces will be available (there should be many because it is a Saturday), so if you get the info to me sooner rather than on Saturday morning when I will be handling many other things, I should be able to request spaces.

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Any questions?

I am sending this Tuesday night, hoping everyone will check their email before the event. I will follow up with answers to questions that others may be wondering about.


If it took you a long time to read this, recognize that it took me even longer to write it…


People often ask, “How can I help (fill-in-the-blank) cause?” To the 106 people who have signed up to join our speech contest tomorrow, the question for you is, “How can I be a good attendee?”

My suggestions:
1) Read emails and updates related to the event. (That means, don’t sign up with an email or Facebook account you rarely check).
2) Check the directions in advance.
3) Arrive early. For an event starting at 2 pm, that does not mean you are on time if you arrive at 2. On time means you arrive 10 to 15 minutes in advance, so registration can be processed, everyone can be seated, and the organizers can check last minute details.

Don’t be the attendee who:
a) arrives just as the event is beginning, thereby disrupting things.
b) announces your rival, “HEY, EVERYBODY, I’M HERE” or gives a shout-out to the person at the microphone.
c) drops your bag or purse, spilling everything on the floor.
… then your phone starts ringing or alarm about the event goes off.
.. as you knock over or fall out out of your seat
d) talks during the contest to other attendees. Only staff volunteers and speakers should be talking during the event tomorrow. Exceptions will be if and when the audience is asked questions by the MC.

Email update:
Directions to the speech contest:

step 1: take a taxi, bus, subway bike or use your feet to head in the direction of Shin and Kim law firm. This particular route is from  Myeongdong subway exit 3:

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from exit 3, walk straight.

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you’ll pass evil American institutions like McDonalds and Starbucks. Then you’ll come to a tall building with a Starbucks sign in front of it. Walk into that tall building. You’ll see “State tower” on one side, and the names of the companies and organizations on the other.

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Walk inside, turn right, tell them at the reception desk that you are there for the speech contest.

there is more than one way to get here–this is the route I just took…

Events don’t prepare themselves, they need behind-the-scenes preparation. Today I visited the National Assembly along with Peter Jung and one of his colleagues. We will be holding an International Volunteers Workshop on March 20.

register here

workshop flyer march 20


here are the directions to get to the National Assembly building where we will be holding the Workshop:

From exit 1 of the National Assembly subway (line 9).

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