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2017-06-12 Harvard Global Networking Night

Brag, brag, brag, that’s what people were doing at last night’s Harvard Global Networking Night. It was great, we were able to tell some influential people about (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees. Best of all, some of them were already familiar with TNKR!

TNKR co-directors took a break from work to join Harvard Global Networking Night. It is great to join networking events where people are expected to talk about their activities. So I shamelessly introduced TNKR! I often encounter people who are afraid that others are bragging or having a good time, so it is was fun meeting with people who want to hear about what others are doing and also want to inform you about what they are doing.

It was delightful when we met some influential people who said they were already aware of our important activities.

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Atlas Network, “Making the Most of Freedom for North Korean Refugees” 탈북민에게 최대한의 자유를

탈북민에게 최대한의 자유를

2017년 5월 30일

TNKR 공동대표 이은구(좌), 케이시 라티그(우) ; 한사랑 농촌문화상 시상식

TNKR의 케이시 라티그는 아틀라스 리더십 아카데미 수료생이다. 그는 텍사스 출신의 흑인 하버드대학교 졸업생이자 자유주의자로서는 탈북민에게 그들의 이야기를 어떻게 전달해야 할지 가르치는데에 삶을 바친 유일한 사람일 것이다. 현재 한국에는 총 30,000명 가량의 탈북민들이 거주하고 있는데  라티그씨는 한국인 이은구씨와 함께 탈북민들이 새로운 환경에 적응하도록 돕기 위한  비영리단체인 TNKR(Teach North Korean Refugees)을 설립하였다.

라티그씨와 이은구씨는 영어를 배우는 일이 탈북민들에게 초기적응에 주요 어려움인것을 알고 공식적으로 2016년 북한이탈주민글로벌교육센터(TNKR Global Education Center)를 설립하였고 라티그씨는  탈북민에게 영어를 배우고 말하는 기회와 멘토링을 제공함으로 그들의 사회 통합에 기여한 점이 인정되어  한사랑 농촌 사회공헌 특별상을 수상하였다.

라티그씨는 “제가 한 번도 들어본 적 없는 단체에서 저를 수상후보로 지명했을 때에 영광으로 여겼고, 제가 최종 수상하게되었다는 것을 알게되었을 때에는 놀랐습니다”라며 “이 상을 600명에 이르는 자원봉사자들과 이 영광을 나누고 싶습니다. 그들은 정말 많은 시간을 내어 탈북민들이 새로운 사회에 적응하는데 도움을 주었습니다. 또한 TNKR의 많은 학생들은 공공연하게 주변친구들이나, 언론에 TNKR이 그들을 실제적으로 돕고 있다는것을 홍보하였고, 또한 자신의 이야기를 통해 자유를 알리고 싶은 주변 탈북민들에게 저희기관을 추천하기도 하였습니다. TNKR의 학생들이 없었다면 저희도 없었을 것입니다” 라고 수상소감을 밝혔다.

번역 노다해

감수 이은구



May 30, 2017

TNKR co-director Eunkoo Lee with Casey Lartigue at the Hansarang Rural Cultural Foundation Award ceremony.

Casey Lartigue Jr., Atlas Leadership Academy alumnus from Teach North Korean Refugees (TKNR), may be the only Harvard-educated black Texan libertarian who has dedicated his life to teaching North Korean refugees how to tell their stories. In 2013, Lartigue and South Korean Eunkoo Lee co-founded the nonprofit TKNR to help the 30,000 refugees living in South Korea integrate into their new environment.

Realizing that learning English is one of the primary barriers faced by North Korean refugees, Lartigue and Lee established the TNKR Global Education Center in 2016, for which Lartigue serves as international director. Lartigue was recently honored as a Hansarang Rural Cultural Foundation Award recipient for contributing to the social integration of North Korean refugees by providing free English learning, speaking, and mentorship opportunities.

“I was honored to be nominated by an organization that I had never heard of, then shocked when I learned that I had won,” said Lartigue. “This award has validated the hard work of the almost 600 volunteers who have given so much of their time to help North Korean refugees adjust to living outside of North Korea. It would not have been possible without the many students within TNKR praising us publicly in the media and recommending us to other refugees seeking ways to improve themselves and to tell stories of how they struggled to escape North Korea so they could live as free people.”

Original Atlas Network link

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2017-06-05 Interview, in-house tutoring, meetings

So many things were going on today.

  • One of the refugees in TNKR was interviewed by a reporter from Canada. It was an extended interview. What I liked about this reporter is that he took his time–he interviewed me twice over the past few weeks, Hwang In-Cheol, a refugee, TNKR volunteers. That is unlike some recent bad experiences we have had with reporters, especially from NPR, Unreported World and some reporters not even worth mentioning.

Paul returned for more in-house tutoring with a refugee visiting Seoul, taking a study break to join TNKR. She lives way down south, but she learned about TNKR, contacted us to say she would be in Seoul. She has been studying with two tutors and will add a third soon.

The entire team was really busy today, planning upcoming events.

We have raised 70% of our matching donation challenge with 9 days to go! Yes, all donations to the fundraisers participating in the Matching challenge will be doubled!


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2017-06-03 3rd TNKR Prince Party Fundraiser

This was definitely the best TNKR Prince party in our history.

  • TNKR Music Manager Peter Daley took charge! As he has said, he has been able to combine his love of music along with volunteering for TNKR. It is a fantastic example of win-win volunteering. Peter recruited some great musicians to volunteer their time for the night, connected with numerous businesses to collect raffle prizes, then led the night playing guitar and working with the musicians. Adding donations in advance as well as collected during the night, Peter raised more than 500,000 won for TNKR in one night of fun! I hope that more volunteers will follow Peter’s lead. Here’s his band, 2Much.
  • TNKR Special Ambassador and Board Member Cherie Yang gave a great speech reminding everyone of the importance of supporting TNKR. She is busy now getting prepared for exams, but she came out to give a speech and meet many people. Cherie’s support since she joined TNKR has provided us with stability. When she and other refugees speak up publicly about what we are doing, it inspires the volunteers who are giving their time and the donors who support TNKR’s activities.

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2017-06-04 Refugees join TNKR Matching Grant Challenge!

I’m proud to announce that 5 North Korean refugees in TNKR have joined our effort to secure a 4 million won matching grant gift! Our challenge? Raise 4 million (about $3,500) won by June 15, then we get the 4 million won gift. So every donation really counts.

They grew up in a country with virtually no such thing as civil society or NGOs engaged in fundraising. Now they are raising money for TNKR, learning the value of civil society.

Donate to the following fundraisers set up by TNKR students, the donations will be doubled!

Click the names below to view each refugee’s fundraiser (in Korean and English):

1) Cherie탈북민 영어교육프로그램 모금

2) Eunhee당신이 바로 탈북민들의 운명을 바꿀수도 있는 멋진 사람이란걸!


4) 설향먼저 온 통일에게 꿈을 키워주세요

5) Jun, I Love TNKR

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Happy Birthday, Eunhee Park!!!

Eunhee Park, a TNKR Special Ambassador and a member of TNKR’s Refugee Leadership Team, is celebrating her birthday today! Unfortunately, she “celebrated” with a difficult exam at the end of her freshman year in college.

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.

When I first met Eunhee in April 2015, she didn’t use her real name and she didn’t show her face in photos. She joined TNKR so she could study English. In the group photo in the bottom right corner, she even refused to join the group photo.


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2017-05-28 Noblish Business Lecture Class

I was one of the featured speakers at a Business Lecture class by the new company Noblish started by Sunny Eunwha Kim. Sunny is a really energetic lady, she makes me feel like I am so lazy. This was the second time she has invited me to give a speech, and I will be speaking to Noblish again on June 18.

As much as I love TNKR, it is good to get away from it sometimes. Sunday was another opportunity to remind me that I have non-TNKR thoughts. Of course I ended up talking about TNKR some, a few of the attendees had either met me before or were intrigued enough to join.

I also love the atmosphere of Noblish because it is so loving and welcoming, we really had a great time, Sunny knows how to organize a fun and energetic event!





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2017-05-29 TNKR’s BtoB Sweatshop Opens

TNKR is about to enter into a Kpop music cult.

A lovely mom and daughter visited us yesterday to donate about 100 book bags to TNKR. They say they have about 200 more, but they couldn’t fit all of them in their car (they drove from Incheon to our office in Seoul). Their plan: We can sell the bags with the patch from a popular Kpop group (BtoB), all proceeds will be donated to TNKR! We will be including a small TNKR patch, which I’m sure many of the kids will rip off.

Mom was going to sew them on, but I suggested that it would be better for TNKR to do that. It turned out to be a great idea, because we happened to have some new interns starting with us! They sewed the patches on 13 bags yesterday! The high school student will take the lead in connecting us with BtoB fans so hopefully they will rush to our website like teenage girls at a music concert rushing the stage.

Here’s the fundraising page to purchase bags.

If you’d like to spend a few hours sewing, stop by the TNKR office!


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2017-05-30 TNKR at CSR International Conference

I’m usually a terrible conference forum attendee. I have actually attended conferences where I did not attend a single forum, only the keynote and luncheon speeches; instead, I was usually outside talking, networking, taking photos. Today, I attended a Corporate Social Responsibility conference in Seoul along with TNKR National Director Eunkoo Lee and Fundraising Manager Anna Martinson. Eunkoo focused on each speech. Anna took notes. I was waiting for the next break so I could talk and meet with people. A great thing about having a bigger staff is that I can be me.  I could be irresponsible while Eunkoo and Anna learned. I didn’t even even open the program book.

Kosri, the main event organizer, profiled me a few years ago. One of the organizers of the conference volunteered along me at the Mulmangcho School a few years ago with one of TNKR’s volunteers. I thought I recognized her but I wasn’t sure. We handed out plenty of our business cards.

We didn’t pick up any new donors, it was a conference where they were studying about CSR, not engaging in it. But you can support TNKR until they wise up.