Mi arduo viaje por la libertad, la familia, y el futuro

Cherie Yang


Hola, hola. Imagina tener tu trabajo soñado, pero darte cuenta de que es una pesadilla. ¿Podrías renunciar, no? La mayoría de la gente da un aviso de dos semanas o simplemente deja de ir al trabajo. En mi caso, yo no podía renunciar. Esto es porque nací en Corea del Norte. Intenté renunciar y tuve a 400 soldados y policías persiguiéndome. Corea del Norte es el peor país del mundo. Un escritor dijo: “Un sistema en donde no puedes vivir, pero no puedes escapar, es la definición del infierno.” Eso es Corea del Norte.

Los soldados y la policía me estaban persiguiendo porque yo sabía su secreto. Estaban buscándome por doquier. Revisando con cada familiar, amigo o conexión posible. Estuve trabajando en una villa gubernamental, que pensé fue la oportunidad de mi vida. Fui seleccionada para trabajar como servidora en la villa gubernamental de un oficial. El oficial era el alcalde de mi ciudad natal. Mujeres de toda Corea del Norte desearían tener este tipo de trabajo porque es considerado honorable servir al régimen de Kim de esta manera. Estaba exaltada de haber sido elegida para este trabajo estimado, hasta que descubrí la realidad dentro de su villa. Cuando recién llegué a la villa del alcalde, recuerdo estar extremadamente sorprendida. Las instalaciones en la villa eran tan lujosas, eran más allá de todo lo que podría haber imaginado. Read more

TNKR’s Million Won Fundraising Club


Cherie Yang, Special Ambassador, “탈북민 영어교육프로그램 모금

Sungju Lee, Ambassador, “Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee (autograph)



Casey Lartigue, TNKR co-founder and International Director, “Casey Lartigue’s Matching Donation Alert” “Casey Lartigue’s fundraiser for TNKR,” “KC’s 2017 Birthday Matching Grant,”

Dave Fry, TNKR Assistant Director and tutor, “Help me help North Korean Refugees

Tony Docan-Morgan, Senior Fellow, “Tony’s TNKR Birthday Fundraiser! 🙂,” “I’ll Mail You Korean Stickers!” “Thanksgiving, Black Friday, & Freedom

Youngmin Kwon, Academic Adviser and tutor, “Support North Korean Refugees & Human Rights!

Janice Kim. Academic Coordinator and tutor, “Janice’s 30th Birthday Fundraiser for TNKR!

Spencer Kim, Intern Coordinator and tutor, “Fund TNKR’s Future


Renee Cummins, November 2016 party


Sandra Durinick & Manda Sheffy, January 2018 fundraiser


Yesterday began with TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue being interviewed for a new TV podcast.

In the afternoon, two TNKR refugees gave speeches to a group of high school students visiting from the USA.

And around all of that, tutoring sessions for refugees, Eunkoo Lee having feedback sessions with refugees to get an understanding about their experience in TNKR.

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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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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

Thursday was one of those days we could really appreciate how much TNKR has grown. With very little money, we have created an NGO that provides practical learning opportunities for refugees and has gained respected internationally.

We have had more than 570 volunteer tutors, but just a handful have committed to us long-term. Of the 270 refugees who have joined us, the same is true, just a handful have stuck to us. Having people around us has taken a lot of pressure off us. And now a new thing is happening–we are no longer at the center of every activity.

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Yesterday was our first full day back at the TNKR office after the TNKR directors visited England for a week.

  • Tutoring sessions
  • Speech coaching
  • Visit to an event location
  • Planning meeting for Global Leadership Forum

It finally happened. We ran out of space, so the TNKR co-directors were pushed out of their own office.

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Back in March 2013, “English Matching” began quietly. One of the biggest changes occurred when Cho Joo Yeon joined us. She brought us so much energy that for the first time, we could think about expanding as an organization. She recruited volunteers for us. One of them who has remained with us, no matter where she goes, is Pam Davidson.

Whenever we were holding a meeting, Pam would come from “The End of the World” to join the session. She was then living several hours away from Seoul, apparently on the last road before you would land in water to the south of South Korea. Matching sessions, speeches, special events. It didn’t matter, she would join, or apologize. She even attended one of our events in North Carolina back in 2015.

She was the first TNKR volunteer to donate to us. That was at a time that we didn’t have an office, website, phone, or future!

Pam returned to the USA a while ago, but she has remained one of our cheerleaders. She is always saying on Facebook that she wishes she could watch our events. I have held off on recording events until we had a team in place that could do it in a professional way. We are not an organization with Internet buzz, we haven’t had a marketing or social media team in place, so we might put a lot of effort into it but only get 800 clicks. When refugee speakers in our program are ready to present, we want to do it in a professional way that they can be proud of!

Finally, because of donations from supporters, we finally have enough money in the bank that we can think about an expansion I have had in mind for a long time: A TNKR video project. If we are successful, we will finally be able to present stories of TNKR speakers in a professional way. Unlike many people, Pam doesn’t just give praise! As soon as I told her that we were setting up a video project, she set up a fundraiser to support it!

Pam Davidson joined TNKR as a volunteer in early 2014. Read more

Teach North Korean Refugees has been featured in the Spring 2017 edition of Koreana magazine (Vol. 31 No. 1). The author of the article is journalist Kim Hak-soon, a Visiting Professor at the School of Media and Communication at Korea University.

Koreana (PDF)

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