I joined the Harvard Club of Korea’s Year-End Dinner Party held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul.

The MC was Kim Byung-chan, guest speaker was Park Jin, US Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert gave the congratulatory address.

I took so many photos, one lady at the dinner asked me if I was part of the organizing party.^^

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I often get feedback and comments from people about things I should differently with (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees. There are some fine ideas, but very often, the suggestion is that “somebody” should do it. As I have written, I hate “somebody.” Because when it is time to get work done, then it turns ot that somebody is nobody! TNKR was able to get started because Eunkoo Lee was the first Somebody with TNKR who followed through, and got things done. If not for her, there would have never been a TNKR, I would probably stll be talking about the South Korean economy or singing in rap videos.
Last June, we had another Somebody join us.
Aromi Yook joined (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees as a tutor. She gave us a suggestion about how we could improve our language matching sessions.
As I said, I often get suggestions from people who have no intention in actually doing anything other than adding to my to-do list.
As usual, hearing someone give a suggestion, I turned it around and suggested that she is probably the person to get it done.
Much to my surprise, she did! Then she made another suggestion, and she followed through again.
Then she made another suggestion: New tutors might need an orientation. Well, for quite some time, I had been saying out loud that we need a teacher trainer or someone who can do an orientation. Then she was saying she had specific ideas about how to get it done.
Aromi Yook, Academic Adviser! That’s right, she then became Academic Adviser of TNKR.
We humbly started TNKR Matching sessions with a one hour tips session by Aromi. Just a few tutors showed up the first time. Yesterday, of the 17 tutors who signed up and properly followed the process, 16 tutors joined the Tips session for tutors.
* * *
I Hate “Somebody”
by Casey Lartigue
The Korea Times
April 2015
* * *
To be a good volunteer, use your brain
by Casey Lartigue
The Korea Times
December 2012
2015-12-05 Tutors Tips (17)
2015-12-05 Tutors Tips (1)
TNKR co-directors Casey Lartigue and Eunkoo Lee were all over town today. We met up at Aeran Lee‘s North Korean restaurant in Seoul. Dinner was great, she treated us to one of my favorites, and kept the food coming even after I was full.
We had great conversation. She has been a student in TNKR for a few months. She is a lady with some strong opinions, even stronger than my own at times!
We are delighted she joined TNKR because she is already an accomplished lady. She even won the 2010 International Woman of Courage award from the US State Department.
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Two TNKR ambassadors were interviewed by a documentary director earlier today. I stopped by for one of the sessions.  It was enjoyable, I learned a lot!

Hanbyeol was thoughtful and hilarious!

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This morning I stopped by to see my friends at Unification Media. I’m not an employee but I already have a long relationship with them.

I was interviewed recently by Jieun Shin​.

Did a quick one-time commentary.

And used to co-host the Casey and Yeon Mi Show​.


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<제 3 회 TNKR English Speech Contest>

제3회 TNKR(Teach North Korean Refugees) English Speech Contest에 여러분을 초대합니다. 현재 TNKR은 일반영어(회사, 공부, 여행 등) 공부를 할 수 있도록 기회를 제공하는 Track 1(Finding My Own Way)과 본인의 이야기를 영어로 이야기할 수 있도록 도움을 주는  Track 2(Telling My Own Story) 를 진행하고 있습니다.

TNKR Englsih Speech Contest는 현재까지 2번 개최 되었습니다.       그리고 2016년 2월 다시 한번 English speech Contest로 여러분을 만나고자 합니다. TNKR을 통해 향상된 여러분의 영어실력을 발휘 할뿐 아니라, 영어에 대한 자신감을 얻는 기회가 되시기 바랍니다. 또한 최종 콘테스트에 참여하게 되는 분들은 TNKR 에서 만난 선생님들 및 코치선생님들과 함께 준비하실수 있습니다.

♠  이번 TNKR English Speech Contest 는 법무법인 세종과 공동주최로 개최됩니다. 관심있는 많은 분들의 참여 기대합니다.

♠ 참여대상자(Participators): 현재 한국에 거주하고 있고, TNKR에 한번이라도 참여하였던 북한 분들 누구나

♠ 일정(Schedule)

  • Step1

① 영어스피치 비디오 제출(5분) (1-2분 자기소개 포함)

영어 스피치 주제: “How can I help North Koreans? Here is my plan”

② 비디오 제출마감일: 2016년 1월 4일(월요일) 오후 6시까지

③ 제출방법: eunkoo21@hanmail.netcjl@post.harvard.edu            이메일 제출(* 확실한 제출을 위해 위 두 개 메일에 모두제출 요망)

  • Step 2

① 7명의 최종결선자 발표

② 1차 비디오 통과자 발표: 2016년 1월 11일(월), 개별연락

  • Step 3

♥ English Speech Contest: 직접 영어로 말하기 (10분)

– 일시: 2016년 2월 27일(토) 14:00- 16:00

–장소: 법무세종(Shin& Kim) 강당


* TNKR Englsih Speech Contest 관객들 앞에서 진행됩니다.

♠ 심사기준



Memory :

Notation and Communication

(20 points)

Invention and Arrangement

: Idea and structure

(20 points)



(20 points)



(20 points)

Delivery Ⅱ

:Body language

(20 points)

최고점수 기준 – Speaker displays a deep knowledge of the content, a strong memory, uses no apparent notes, and communicates directly, effectively and intuitively with the audience  – Clever, attention-grabbing introduction

– Ideas demonstrate creativity, intelligence, persuasiveness and/or wisdom

-Vocabulary, grammar and expression-use perfectly suit the topic and speech situation

-No apparent vocabulary or grammatical errors

– Speech is readily understood by both native and non-native English speakers

– Intonation and pronunciation are native level and match well with the content of the speech

– Non-native accent is not detectable in the speech

– The speaker is making appropriate eye contact with the entire audience, which greatly enhances the judge/audiences understanding of the speech

– Gestures, posture and movement are natural and fit perfectly with the content of the speech

-Audience focuses solely on the speaker and the speech

♠ 시상내역(Rewards)

★ 1등(1명): 150만원 상금

★ 2등(1명): 50만원 상금

★ 3등(1명): 20만원 상금

★ 장려상(4명): 10만원 상금

♠문의 (Contact)

– 궁금하신 분들은 Casey Lartigue (영어)/ Eunkoo Lee (한국어):  eunkoo21@hanmail.net (한국어)/ cjl@post.harvard.edu(영어)

제1회 contest

<제1회 스피치 콘테스트>

제2회 스피치

<제2회 스피치 콘테스트>

Today is the first time in a while that I have been at the office all day.


She isn’t always so shy.^^


TNKR in-house tutoring session #1 today. She came in slightly above the ABC level. She is wondering when she will be fluent…


TNKR study session #2: She is a high level speaker. She will be joining our next English Matching session.


TNKR study session #3: He arrived 20 minutes, he will also be joining the next English Matching session.


busy time at TNKR this afternoon… and we are thinking about how to expand so more tutors and refugees can study at the office.

TNKR co-director Casey Lartigue and Eunkoo Lee.

TNKR co-directors Casey Lartigue and Eunkoo Lee.

Judy joined our in-house tutoring program when we started it in mid-September. She's always so delighted, ready to help TNKR whenever possible.

Judy joined our in-house tutoring program when we started it in mid-September. She’s always so delighted, ready to help TNKR whenever possible.

English translation of Voice of America article and broadcast about Teach North Korean Refugees.

* * *

[News Scenery] American co-founder provides free English education for North Korean refugees

TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees) is an organization that connects North Korean defectors with native English speakers to provide free language tutoring. Co-founder Casey Lartigue (right) and volunteer Jenny Lee (middle) are pictured posing with a student.


This is News Scenery Today, reporting the hot topics of the week every Tuesday. There is an organization that provides free English classes to North Korean defectors. It was established by an American living in South Korea, who wanted to offer English education tailored to refugee needs. Jang Yang-hee reports the story.

We have seen quite a few North Korean refugees telling the world, in fluent English, about the human rights situation in North Korea.

Park Yeon-mi, a famous North Korean refugee, recently published her book “In Order to Live” in English. “A Thousand Miles to Freedom” is another piece of literature written in English by a North Korean defector.

In 2013, North Korean refugee Lee Sung-min appeared on C-TV, the most popular Canadian broadcast, to let the world know about the human rights situation in the DPRK. He was recently accepted to Columbia University, one of the most prominent schools in the United States.

These outstanding world citizens’ achievements can be attributed to the fine work of TNKR in South Korea.

TNKR stands for “Teach North Korean Refugees.” The non-profit private organization was first established in 2013 to teach English to North Korean refugees.

TNKR’s headquarters are based in Itaewon, Seoul. The organization’s main function is to connect refugees with native English speakers.

The co-founder of TNKR is Casey Lartigue. He studied education at Harvard and later became a human rights activist.

Mr. Lartigue told the VOA the story of how his organization was established.

In 2013, he heard Lee Hyun-seo’s speech at TED, and was deeply moved. Lee was one of the first North Korean refugees to talk about the horrifying human rights situation in the DPRK on the international stage.

Mr. Lartigue took part in the 2012 hunger-strike aimed at stopping the Chinese government from forcibly sending North Korean defectors back to the DPRK. Professor Park Sun-young, a former member of the ROK national assembly, was also at the protest. She later invited Mr. Lartigue to work with the Mulmangcho (a flower, meaning “forget-me-not”) School where Professor Park Sun-young was the director of the board.

He met Lee Eunkoo, a North Korean Studies researcher. After several long discussions, they established the TNKR organization.

Mr. Lartigue explained what they do at TNKR.

“In South Korea, if you cannot understand at least… if you cannot achieve English at a certain level, then it’s hard to get a job.”

He said it’s hard to get a job in South Korea if one does not speak sufficient English, so learning English allows the refugees to empower themselves here.

There are currently 180 North Korean refugees learning English through TNKR. They are all taught by volunteer teachers in one-on-one sessions.

There are 300 volunteer teachers in the organization, and each student meets with 3 teachers on average. However, they can learn from as many teachers as they choose.

Park Yeon-mi studied hard for 8 months, learning from 18 volunteer teachers.

Mr. Lartigue says the key to the NGO’s success is to let the students choose their own teachers from a pool of volunteers. This is because each teacher’s strengths vary between grammar, speaking, being inspirational, etc.

The organization reduces the burden on each volunteer, and provides a network of social bonds to the refugees.

Mr. Lartigue explained the TNKR method of checking the history and expertise of each volunteer before introducing them to the refugees.

“…to decide their own way of studying. Track 1 is called finding my own way, so we don’t tell them what they should study.”

According to him, Track 1 consists of two parts – conversational speaking and public speaking.

Ken Eom, 35, defected from the DPRK in 2010. He is currently working at a publishing house in ROK, and has been studying with TNKR tutors since last March.

Ken told the VOA that Track 2 classes have been especially helpful.

“The Track 2 course begins with speaking to the audience about my own story. Public speaking is fundamentally different from general conversation, so I learned a lot of new vocabulary and sentence structures. I also benefited greatly from learning how to speak to real people,” said Ken.

Ken said he met with teachers from all around the world – from Australia, the U.S., and New Zealand.

Another refugee we interviewed, Sharon, is turning 25 this year. She found out about TNKR through an online social network and joined the organization last March. It has now been 6 months, and she says that not only has her English improved, but she is far more confident when speaking in front of a crowd. For her, she says, this was the biggest gain.

“Confidence is what I got from taking these classes. I was very much self-conscious about my English pronunciation, and that made me nervous and hindered my performance. Also, I hadn’t been in South Korea for that long, and I didn’t talk much, not even with Koreans. Now, I guess I am a lot more confident.”

Sharon said she had been on the wait-list for 3 months, but it was very much worth the wait. “We can choose our own teacher, our own time and place to learn English, so it is a great opportunity to get better if you try.”

Right now there are about 50 refugees on the wait-list to learn English with TNKR. Among those names, top priority students who are connected with teachers first are orphans, victims of human trafficking, and persons under the age of 25.

“Knowledge is power,” Mr. Lartigue says to encourage the refugees. “If you want to influence others, grab the opportunity to learn.” For some of the refugees, he said, it was the first time they ever received a proper education. He feels sad that the DPRK does not provide education for all.

TNKR activities rely solely on private donations. Mr. Lartigue expressed his gratitude to the volunteers who work for free. He adds that the reason he and others do not give up on helping refugees is because they know how important it is.

Translation by Lee Soohyun
Edited by Ashley-Nicole Harrison



  • 6 hours of in-house tutoring yesterday by two different tutors.
  • We had three international tutors stop by the office, as part of an initiative started by Rorry and Maaike. We already scored our first coupon for the Christmas Party on December 18! Good job, Alexia! Another international student donated to TNKR, another translated our Indiegogo campaign into a foreign language, leading to another donation.
  • TNKR was featured on Voice of America


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  • What an honor! My delightful former co-host and colleague Yeonmi Park stopped by the TNKR office to say hello! For a while, I was seeing her almost every day when we worked together in 2014, but I guess I have only seen her three or four times this entire year. She is now an international speaker and human rights advocate, but before that, she was my TV podcast co-host, ambassador to TNKR, and colleague at Freedom Factory. Thankfully, she is still a great friend.^^
  • After spending the early afternoon at the office, I met with international students to prepare for upcoming TNKR events. We had the meeting at the law firm that will be hosting our Christmas party on December 18.
  • 6 hours of in-house tutoring plus planning to add additional features to the program.

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