Eben Appleton wrote: It was a special night for Teach North Korean Refugees, TNKR, when TNKR fans Sandra Durnick and Amanda Sheffy hosted a fundraiser for the all-volunteer group at the Hidden Cellar located in Seoul, Korea.

That’s what happens when a community rallies around a group and supports their humble project of helping North Korean refugees by teaching them English.

TNKR depends solely on fundraisers in order to continue their English teaching program. How much was donated? Over 1 million won! An additional amount of 340,000 won, was won in a final raffle by TNKR Academic Coordinator, Janice Kim. After winning, she immediately donated the money to the fundraiser. TNKR Co-founder, Casey Lartigue Jr., pulled the final raffle ticket and was pleasantly surprised by her donation. Thank you Janice Kim!

Director Lartigue felt he should have said more about TNKR during the party fundraiser, but instead spent the entire evening appreciatively thanking those many who were in attendance.

Personally, I wish I had been there to see the excitement of my many friends at TNKR. I realize the fundraiser will help them to sustain their amazing organization for another year.

Tomorrow will be a busy, back to the old grind, kind of day at the office. I am certain those at TNKR are still “walking on air” from the night before.

Congratulations, dear friends, and thanks to all supporters who know a good thing when they see it.

The dedicated volunteer tutors for TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees), have increased significantly in numbers and they are eager to teach North Korean refugees English. However, there have been concerns by some of the refugees who enter the Track 1 program of learning Basic English.

At the basic Track 1 level, some of the refugees have fears that their tutors might choose to quit. Why? The refugees worry that at the ABC level of English their tutors may have a rough time dealing with them.

TNKR co-founder and National Director, Eunkoo Lee, had three face-to-face interviews with refugees eager to join the TNKR program.

The following concerns and the feedback are highlighted in the following article:

In this update, there are many issues addressed such as, “will my teachers quit?” Or, “Listen to the refugees in theory, or practice”.

Co-founders Casey Lartigue Jr., and Eunkoo Lee, are learner-centered and demand focused, always insisting that English be spoken to the refugees instead of Korean, and the opportunity for the refugees to have freedom of choice by choosing their own tutors. Their methods of teaching has remained consistent since their inception in 2013.

Many experts beg to differ with TNKR’s approach to teaching English to NK refugees, but have been proven wrong over and over. “The proof is in the pudding”.

I remember back when I was a high school student that many lazy students would read Cliff’s Notes based on books rather than reading the original books. Of course, I was never one of those students, I would read the original texts.

But I feel like being a lazy reader because of Eben Appleton. Sometimes I feel like reading Eben’s Notes rather than my own Korea Times column. She reads my columns, then will write a summary on Facebook. I don’t know how many people read my column, but I can be sure that at least two people do so–Eben and the opinion page editor of the Korea Times. And sometimes I’m not so sure about my editor!

You can read her latest summary, and/or if you have time, you can read the original column. You decide: Eben’s Notes or Casey’s Column. 🙂

And here is Eben’s fundraiser for TNKR.



Eben Appleton is a real person! She isn’t just an App sending cheerful messages to TNKR. She visited TNKR after following us on Facebook for more than a year.

Yes, she visited TNKR, which happens to be located in South Korea. She had to be talked into visiting palaces and other tourist destinations. She was as lovely and sweet as she is on Facebook.

She asked if she could give me a kiss on my cheek. Sure! People usually ask to rub my head. 🙂

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This weekend my husband Charlie Appleton and I had the pleasure again of having a lengthy conversation with Ki Ho Kim, a classmate of Charlie’s many years ago at Peabody Demonstration School in Nashville.

Ki Ho is a North Korean Refugee who fled to South Korea during the Korean War. He was brought to America by an Army colonel. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in Engineering, having overcome many obstacles along the way.

By his own admission, Ki Ho has not kept in touch with many of his old classmates. As a minority Asian immigrant living in the South, he speaks of the predicament the African-American and American-Indian cultures find themselves in when facing their cultural differences here.

In a book he wrote many years ago, Ki Ho tells his story from a different perspective from that of many of the NK refugees today. He speaks of his only treasure at the time being his English-speaking dictionary. It was all he had to help him communicate in his new environment.

As is my usual conversation, I began to hold forth to him about the educational opportunities offered to NK refugees by TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees) when teaching them English. Co-founders Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eunkoo Lee, have made TNKR their life’s work since 2013.

There is also Hyun S. Song, Director of No Chain in North America, and Jihyun Park, a famous Human Right’s activist in the UK. Their role in Human RIghts is not easy, I have heard. They all hope for a new day for the NK citizens.

Ki Ho listened in amazement to my story with an enthusiasm that I have never experienced in our many years of friendship. He spoke of the NK refugee’s bravery and courage.

In recent years, Ki Ho has returned to NK to search for his relatives at a time such entry was allowed by the Kim regime. At his age, I doubt that his relatives were alive and well.

There are many volunteers of the famous all-volunteer NGO, TNKR. The following cannot begin to include them all. A few are mentioned below:

Youngmin Kwon, Academic Advisor (and Project Manager) for the BringMyFatherHome campaign atTNKR, who formerly studied at Georgetown Univ. Law School and has also worked with Amnesty International; Hwang Cheol who works tirelessly to bring his father home from NK; Ken Eom, a NK refugee who was a soldier in the Kim regime; Peter Daley, a professor at a SK Women’s Univ. and a man with varied interests; and Steve Chai, a TNKR volunteer and Tutor. Dave Fry, Asst. Director and Tony Docan-Morgan who has not been with TNKR as long as the others, but is doing amazing work; Junha Kwon, a summer Intern, Tutor, and Translator; Karin Hanna who recently returned to Germany.

Ki Ho Kim wishes to acknowledge all of these selfless individuals and thank them for their continued work to offer “Freedom of Choice” to all of those people who have never known freedom in the “Hermit Kingdom” of North Korea.

Tomorrow will be a new day for TNKR, as it moves on to more important opportunities for the NK refugees to tell their own stories at its 6th NK Refugee Speech Contest on August 26th. They will be telling their stories as Ki Ho Kim did in his book many years ago.