2016-02-02 AWC


Radio Free Asia has done a broadcast about the upcoming TNKR English Speech contest.

(Korean text), (Broadcast in Korean)

English translation by Lee Soohyun and Hayon Yoon.

The 3rd TNKR English Speech Contest to be held in Seoul

(Washington) by Yang Hee-jung, yangh@rfa.org

Anchor: An English speech contest for North Korean refugees will be held next February 2016 in Seoul.

Yang Hee-jung reports:

Teach North Korean Refugees is a free of charge English language program for North Korean refugees in South Korea. Casey Lartigue, the co-founder of TNKR, told Radio Free Asia that TNKR will be holding its third English speech contest for North Korean refugees on 27th February of next year.

Mr. Lartigue: January 4th is the deadline for the applications. And by then, applicants will send us short video clips of what they are going to talk about at the contest. After that, we review all the videos, pick seven contestants and let them know by January 11th. Then each participant can speak up to 10 minutes.

Mr. Lartigue told us they need to limit the number of contestants to seven, because the event will last two hours. However, North Korean refugees have been showing keen interest in the contest, so the original plan to hold it once a year changed to have one contest every 6 months. They have already held two contests – one in last February and the other in August.

Mr. Lartigue: The participants of previous contests tell me that it was a great opportunity to increase their confidence. It was a chance for them to think deeply about a single subject, and they get assistance from English-speaking coaches to help them with writing and speaking.

Coincidentally, the first two contest winners were refugees studying in graduate schools in the U.K. They were both winners of the Chevening Scholarship sponsored by the British government. Lee Sung-ju won the first contest. He is currently studying international relations at University of Warwick for one year until next October. Additionally, Oh Se-hyek, winner of the second speech contest, won the scholarship in 2011 and was the first refugee sponsored by the British Foreign Office to study for his master’s degree in Britain.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Lee Sung-ju said that the speech contest is a challenge for many North Korean refugees who haven’t received decent English education before coming to South Korea, but also an excellent opportunity.

Lee Sung-ju: To me, the experience itself was so meaningful. Using my experience of having lived in both North and South Korea, I could present my own opinion on how to prepare for reunification of the two Koreas. I also think the experience helped me with the Chevening Scholarship interview.

Lee also added that it was a precious chance to communicate and become friends with foreigner coaches who were helping him out.

The first speech contest addressed the question, “How to Help North Koreans.” The second contest focused on “What freedom means to me.” The upcoming 3rd contest’s theme will be: “Here’s my plan to help North Koreans.”

The Grand Prize of the speech contest will receive the equivalent to 1,500 USD, and other contestants will also receive monetary rewards as well.



TNKR Newsletter – Dec. 2015 (PDF)

TNKR Newsletter – Dec. 2015 (Korean)



Dec 2015 vertical

TNKR, December 2015 newsletter

Publishers: Eunkoo Lee, Casey Lartigue Jr.

Editor-in-Chief: Amy Gradin

Publication Director: Kiyun Sung

Assistant Editor: Ashley-Nicole Harrison

Assistant Editor: Rachel Pearsall

Translator: Soohyun Lee

Special thanks to Cherie Yang, Michael Smit

TNKR Newsletter - Dec. 2015 (Korean)-page-001 TNKR Newsletter - Dec. 2015 (Korean)-page-002 TNKR Newsletter - Dec. 2015 (Korean)-page-003


Chloe Edwards writes: “How to leave an impact in Korea”:

I have been volunteering with TNKR since September. First I volunteered to help with their marketing. Then I wanted to really be a part of the program’s core activity by becoming a tutor. I have tutored now for three months. I meet with my student once a week in Seoul and help him with his English needs. He is a university student who studies marketing; it could not be a better match! I am blown away by his dedication to learning English. In only a year, he is pretty much fluent in English and takes college courses in English. He is always so excited to learn and improves every time we meet. Even though he has a full college work load, he manages to see three English tutors.

Read more  here: https://chlogoeshome.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/teach-north-korean-refugees/

Indiegogo fundraiser



Leeann Roybal-Shin stopped by the office. I was back at Freedom Factory office today.

Oh, LeeAnn had me laughing from start to finish! There are some times that I’m the most talkative person in the room…

Today was not one of those days.^^




Rachel Pearsall stopped by the office today. She’s another energetic lady! And it is really a special case.

She came to South Korea to volunteer for (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees. This is really a special thing. There are so many wonderful organizations out there, but she chose us.

She has many great ideas. She is the Party Planner for our Christmas party on December 18.

When I wonder how we can do something, she quickly has a suggestion, and springs into action. Of course, she usually has a lot to say as she is springing into action.^^


I was at the Freedom Factory office for a second consecutive day.

I had four delightful meetings about three different topics. One of the meetings could lead to some incredible changes within TNKR if we are successful.


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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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