2018-05 Three Day Weekend of Work

Monday May 7 is a holiday in South Korea. For most normal people, that meant many people went traveling over the weekend to take advantage of the three-day weekend. But for TNKR, a three-day weekend meant a weekend of work!

  • Speech by an NK refugee
  • 3 hour discussion with a group visiting from the USA.
  • Magazine interview with TNKR Special Ambassador Ken Eom.
  • Meeting forming an Event Planning Team.
  • Interview with a refugee joining TNKR.
  • Visit from an NK refugee.
  • NK refugee starting her first day in the TNKR office.
  • Tutoring session.
  • Visit from a model who loves TNKR.
  • Visit from a TNKR fan.
  •  Went to pick up four boxes of books from a TNKR fan.


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Fundraising for TNKR

Thank you to the TNKR volunteers and fans who posted their fundraisers today!

Erin Sylvester, Help Empower North Korean Refugees with Erin

Jeffrey Villa, Help North Korean refugees learn English!

Janice Kim, Help NK Refugee Moms Learn English for Free!

Tony Docan-Morgan, I’ll Mail You Korean Stickers!

Simon Thyer, TNKR Moving Again

Marco John, North Korean Refugees Need Your Support 

Kayla Shea, Help North Korean refugees learn English

Vanessa and Larah, Lending Ears: Women Supporting TNKR

Dondi Lyons, 58.5, that’s a thing, right?

Eunkoo Lee, TNKR is my new life

Marie Boes, Get a handwritten postcard from Korea!

KC, Casey Lartigue’s Fundraiser for TNKR


2018-03-24 TNKR Matching 72: Time & a dime

TNKR held its 72nd language Matching session yesterday March 24. We have now had more than 1000 people participate in this volunteer project–more than 350 refugees, almost 800 volunteer tutors and coaches. Matching session #71 was the week before.

It means that this month, we had two Matching sessions with 32 tutors and 19 refugees. That is quite a lot for one month. Now comes the real work, with studying by refugees, teaching by tutors, and monitoring by our staff. This is in addition to keeping up with the previous groups.

These two groups are helping to build TNKR in a different way: 28 of the tutors have either become monthly donors or set up their own fundraisers. We have never had such active participation from volunteers. Some even griped about us asking them to do more than tutoring.

Most of the tutors are living in Seoul, but we do have one tutor coming from Gwangju to tutor. The week before, it was a tutor coming from Busan.

Special thanks to Janice Kim, TNKR Academic Coordinator, and TNKR co-founder Eunkoo Lee, for working together so well in managing the process so that we could have so many volunteers and refugees join us in one month. We have been trying to clear the long waiting list of refugees while also improving our quality control.

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Kaylin D. Womack blog post: “Thankful for TNKR”

I was fortunate enough to attend a local KOTESOL chapter fall event in Daejeon and hear a message from Eunkoo Lee and Casey Latrigue, co-founders of the Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) organization. TNKR is a life-changing program that raises money and helps North Koreans, who are able to escape the country, adjust to life in a democracy and tell their stories as a form of healing.

Check her blog for the rest of the post.




New Year’s Resolutions

The following is the first blog post at the Korea Times by Casey Lartigue Jr.. The post reveals the New Year’s resolutions of three North Korean refugees.

Jihyun Park, a NK refugee and a widely known Human Right’s Activist in the UK, says there were no personal wishes or dreams when a New Year started in NK. In the 1990’s the New Year’s custom of sharing food and giving, disappeared because of the famine.
Her dream now is to help free her people from the oppression inflicted by the Kim regime.

Eunhee Park, remembers having no New Year’s resolutions in NK. She was just not thinking about tomorrow, but about having food for today. Her New Year’s resolution for the coming year is to settle down and keep improving her English and to live a happy life.

The third NK refugee stated that she had only one resolution for the New Year, and it was “to escape the hell” of NK.

In 2017, Sujin stated that she was struggling until she found TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees). In 2018, she hopes to continue to learn English through their well known English teaching program.

In conclusion, I believe that TNKR’s New Year’s resolution is to help NK refugees in 2018, by teaching or helping them to improve their English, in order to better their lives.

Eben’s Notes

More than a year ago, I began writing summaries on fb attached to the links of my dedicated friends at TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees). This all-volunteer organization based In Seoul, Korea, teaches NK refugees English. In learning English, it offers those individuals from the darkest corner of the world, an opportunity to succeed in South Korea, a community that requires English in order for them to fully enjoy their newfound freedom.

In most cases, the links involve reading articles that at times are lengthy. In an attempt to raise awareness of the excellent English teaching program offered by TNKR, the group must constantly attempt to raise funds in order to sustain the NGO. Funds are their only source of income.

My goal has been to offer Cliff Note versions of lengthy articles to those who have chosen to disregard the detail of the original text.

Mr. Casey Lartigue Jr., along with Eunkoo Lee, co-founded TNKR. This versatile man along with his many other activities, writes a column for the Korea Times. I have enjoyed reading his excellent column along with the many posts telling about the activities that make the teaching program of TNKR a highly sought after organization by the refugees. “They find TNKR, TNKR does not find them”.

Director Lartigue states that he chooses to read my Cliff Note versions of his column, saying that many times he has forgotten much of the content. He feels that only his Editor and I read his articles in detail.

USA Today article

Today an article appeared in USA Today highlighting TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees), has come to the attention of the world! I am so proud of my friends in Seoul, Korea for their dedicated work teaching North Korean refugees English. Casey Lartigue Jr., Eunkoo Lee, Tony Docan-Morgan, Sharon Jang and many other friends of mine are mentioned in this excellent, informative, article.


2017-11-10 “English is my forever homework”

Catching up on recent activities…

Individual Education Plans

When refugees join TNKR, Eunkoo Lee and I do our best to conduct interviews with them. This past week we had four new students visit the office. Every one of them says something inspirational to remind us why we are constantly trying to upgrade this humble little project.

  • My favorite was a refugee who has already lived abroad and realized how important English is to his future. “English is my forever homework.” Tutors won’t have to wonder if he will be motivated to study. He found out about TNKR recently, he immediately applied to join us.
  • A refugee repeatedly told us how “impressive” TNKR is. She previously paid to study at a language institute, but she didn’t feel that her English was improving enough. Then she heard that she could study English 1:1 with as many tutors as she wants. So she applied!
  • A refugee who has followed TNKR for quite a while finally decided to apply. She said that she is impressed by our “new approach” putting students at the center. She has heard about other programs saying that they focus on the students first, but she can see that we really do so. She said she can feel that she has responsibility for making the class successful, so she will think deeply about ways to have a class that is self-directed.
  • A fourth student made it clear that she is “very eager” to study. She wants conversation, conversation, conversation. I asked her about using Korean in class, she said she really hopes teachers will use only English, she can already speak Korean! She has studied English in many situations in Korea, but this has the potential to truly push her to learn more.

All four of these applicants learned about TNKR from other refugees–three are former students, 1 is another refugee familiar with TNKR.

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2017-09-22 Volunteer Training Workshop, Day 1

2017-09-22 Volunteer Training Workshop, Day 1

Lecture 1: “North Korean Refugee Resettlement System” by Ye-eun Song,
Social worker, Seoul Southern Hana Center

Lecture 2: “Recent NK Situation and Escape Routes,” Young-seok Lee, NAUH (Now Action & Unity for NK Human Rights)

2017-09-23 Volunteer Training Workshop, Day 2

Lecture 3: “North Korean Education System” Jinhee Han, Yeomyeong School

Group Discussion with NK Refugee Students (College)

Lecture 4: Roles and Professionalism in Volunteering with NK refugees

Group Discussion: Tony Docan-Morgan (Prof. of Communication, Univ. of Wisconsin-La Crosse) and TNKR Senior Fellow



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