Teach North Korean Refugees
Give. Educate. Learn.
TEACH NORTH KOREAN REFUGEES is a project and book club started to help people - refugees. And while it is for helping people, you'll also be having a little bit of fun doing it, that is, if you're into books.
By donating you'll get to be a part of the monthly book drawing - a chance to win a signed copy of a book written by a North Korean refugee. Books such as:
* Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung (personalized)
* Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee (personalized)
* In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park (signed)
* A Thousand Miles from Freedom by Eunsun Kim (personalized)
* Sunhee by Lee Ju Song (personalized)
Our next book drawing will be held on June 24, 2018 at 4 pm.
And what's more? You even have a say over the book you would like to win by - emailing Casey Lartigue CJL@ alumni.harvard.edu to let him know which book you would like when you win.
Give. Educate. Learn.
To find more resources about North Korea, check the archive that TNKR is compiling.
Book Drawing Winners
December 9, 2017: Corwin Rudley
January 20, 2018: Oliver Brown and Kaylin Womack
Feb 24, 2018: Pam Davidson
March 17: Sonny Tai
May 19 book forum with Sunju Lee
TNKR has received official notification that we may have to move out of our office.
One, our landlord has put the office location for sale in the real estate market.
Two, we have had numerous visitors to the office in the last few weeks and the agent responsible for selling the office says we can expect more.
Three, a prospective buyer would like to re-convert this office into a home.
Whatever the case may be, we don't have stability and need to find a new location in about three months. It is incredible because we get praise from so many, have been profiled by numerous media outlets, but have struggled with having a stable office location. This little office has been shown in numerous articles, videos, TV shows and photographs, but it will be time to say goodbye.
We had already outgrown this space, but are being pushed out ahead of schedule and financial means. Because we lack enough classroom space, most sessions are held at business centers or coffee shops. We have the possibility for funding support to subsidize those sessions so volunteers and refugees don't have to spend money, but it would be better if students and tutors visited our office more often for study sessions. We could get to know them better and learn from more frequent discussions how we can continue developing TNKR.
We are asking our volunteers, friends and fan to help us get prepared for a move, possibly having to spend more for the deposit and monthly rent. We got lucky with the current location, but we can’t be sure we will get lucky again.
We are delighted to announce that TNKR has been offered a $5,000 Matching Grant Opportunity to explore ways to help North Korean refugees and defectors spread information inside North Korea. This means that the money donated to this fundraiser will be doubled!
TNKR has gained a solid reputation for its work with North Korean refugees adjusting to living outside of North Korea. In addition to helping North Korean refugees improve their English language skills, several refugees who have studied in the program have also gone on to write books and give speeches around the world.
We are now exploring ways to help refugees who hope to spread information inside North Korea.
We have a few activities in mind, which we hope not to have to announce with the North Korean regime possibly monitoring us, but we can share some of this information with donors and update after activities have been completed.
Here's a Washington Post article that explains the need to continue sending information into North Korea.
According to South Korea's Ministry of Unification, more than 31,000 North Korean refugees have escaped to South Korea since the late 1990s. Overall, 71 percent of them are females, and the trend is even higher. In 2017, about 83 percent of them who arrived in South Korea are females. As has been reported by various reporters and organizations, many of them were victims of sex trafficking or sold as wives in China as they were escaping to freedom.
In addition to the challenges they have as immigrants to a new country and as women settling in a new male-dominated society, those who are mothers have children they brought from North Korea or China, or had after arriving in South Korea. Like mothers everywhere, they focus on their children, making them the priority rather than developing themselves.
For a few years now, TNKR has been considering ways to help North Korean refugee mothers who would sometimes drop out of our program because of childcare issues.
We recently received a grant for our proposal to set up a project offering Skype tutoring for North Korean refugee mothers who cannot easily commute for face-to-face tutoring in English. The grant is good for three months, we would like to raise more funding for this project to keep it going in the future and to also provide some support for TNKR to administer this project (all of the grant money is going directly to the program, meaning the program cannot continue beyond the current three-month allocation).
If we can keep this project going, we would like to expand it so that the project can also support occasional face-to-face tutoring sessions by tutors who can visit refugees near their homes. We have other additions in mind that could continue providing support for North Korean refugee mothers adjusting to living in South Korea while also raising their children.
" Who pays for study sessions?" That question is asked by many tutors and students joining TNKR for the first time.
* Some of the refugees have told us "I have no extra money." And we know that some of them are trying to save money either to help relatives still in North Korea or even to save up enough to rescue relatives, friends or other loved ones still in North Korea. Knowing their situations, we have done our best to keep TNKR tuition-free for refugees.
* Some tutors are in debt from college. One told me, "Casey, I'm $60K in debt, but I will do my best." This is on top of them already engaging in free tutoring, so we hate it when they must spend money in addition to volunteering.
One of our previous volunteers said people can "give a little or a latte." She's right!
Refugees and tutors in our program can study at business centers or cafes, but they can expect to pay at least 10,000 won per session. Some tutors have told us that they had to cut back on tutoring sessions with refugees not because of a lack of time or willingness, but because of the cost (transportation, costs of booking rooms).
At the most we can handle one or two study sessions at a time, but because we lack full-time paid staff, it is hard to keep the office open for study sessions or to accept appointments in advance. And we often need to use the office for our internal meetings and staff.
TNKR is now taking a big step: Converting our current office into a study center for refugees.
We hope to reserve the office for study sessions that can be held most of the day. To make this happen, we will be moving our operations into the office of a partner organization. It won't be as comfortable for our volunteer staff, we will lose some of our autonomy, but this can provide more opportunities for refugees and tutors to be able to study without cost being an issue for them.
You can help by becoming a monthly donor. We hope to have at least 100 monthly donors donating at least 10,000 won each (about $9) a month.
At cafes, TNKR students and tutors must battle loud music, loud customers, plus it can get crowded at times, and sometimes it is hard to get a good seat. Plus, it isn't a professional situation for refugees to be studying English, especially those who are studying it for the first time.
At business centers, they must pay at 10,000 won per session, leading back to the problems stated above.
* Study rooms are usually a cheaper alternative, but they are built either to be really quiet situations or there is a problem with being pushed out for the next customers.
* Refugees sometimes are embarrassed about beginning their journey into the world of English and would prefer not to be studying in open settings.
* Refugees getting help with public speeches sometimes discuss sensitive topics that may be uncomfortable discussing in a cafe or another open space.
We would like to get away from these problems by having TNKR students and tutors meet to study at our Study Center. It will give us a better chance to get to know them, they will feel better connected to TNKR, and they can study in a quiet study center expecting them. You can give a little or a latte. :-)
Donations to this project can be made anonymously and the amount you give won't be posted online, so a monthly donation can help us provide a safe space for refugees to study.
TNKR, a volunteer-based nonprofit NGO, supports North Korean refugees who are transitioning to life outside of North Korea and preparing for their future by providing them with free English language learning opportunities. Nearly one-third of North Korean refugees who drop out of college do so because of English difficulties. Similarly, more than 40% of North Korean refugees picked communication problems from the use of foreign languages as the biggest difficulty in assimilation. English has had a major impact on refugees’ lives and career prospects.
TNKR helps refugees during the assimilation process and enables refugees to achieve their educational and professional goals, while also spreading awareness and working toward solutions regarding the plight of North Korean refugees. Refugees’ voices are the heart and soul of TNKR. Please consider becoming a monthly donor to help TNKR continue to offer learning opportunities for refugees and ensure that refugees' voices are heard.
**TNKR in USA Today: North Korean defectors must overcome big challenge once free: Learn English https://usat.ly/2CxyrJQ
**Watch TNKR Special Ambassador Cherie Yang's TEDx Talk, "My Arduous Journey for Freedom, Family, and the Future." I was honored to serve as one of her coaches. https://youtu.be/grNEeGe6i5o
**Watch Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eunkoo Lee's TEDx Talk about how we can make a difference in the world. Their speech is inspiring for everyone AND it tells the story of TNKR. I helped coach them and produced the final video; they were the brave ones who created TNKR and gave the talk! https://youtu.be/yFaXvG-rSmQ
TNKR will give a signed copy of Sungju Lee’s book, “Every Falling Star” to all donors contributing at least 150,000 won to TNKR. This is not a book sale, this is a thank you for helping our organization grow. He will sign it, and write a personal message of your choice in the book. We will also mail the book anywhere in the world. After making the donation, please email Dave Fry to let him know what message you want in the book, and where to mail the book. We will be shipping out books twice a month on, or around the 15th of the month, and on, or around the last day of the month.
For any questions, please email Dave Fry, Assistant Director of TNKR:
You can donate via PayPal, the TNKR fund or the TNKR bank account.
More than 30,000 North Korean refugees who successfully escaped from North Korea and China chose South Korea as their landing point. But much less attention has been focused on the more than 200 who have gone directly to the USA and the more than 600 who have gone to the UK.
Two non-profit organizations based in South Korea (TNKR) and the UK (Stepping Stones) are collaborating on several days of activities to raise awareness about the plight of refugees in the UK.
October 21, North Korean Refugee Freedom Forum (held at Resource for London)
October 23, Oxford University forum
October 24, University College London forum (pending final confirmation)
October 24, address at Parliament (pending final confirmation)
October 28, TEDx Talk by a refugee in TNKR
The two organizations (co-founded by 2 North Korean refugees, 1 South Korea, and 1 American( are both tiny non-profits. They have raised some money to cover costs for the trip and activites, but are short about $1,300. Your financial support will help cover costs for renting venues, travel to speak at events, accommodations.
The two organizations have already collaborated to connect several refugees in the UK with English tutors to help them with their struggles surviving in an English-speaking environment. As a result of this trip, we hope to raise awareness about North Korean refugees in the UK; find more tutors and coaches to assist refugees with adjustment, and find more ways to collaborate to help North Korean refugees.
Stepping Stones co-founders have both been students in TNKR.
Stepping Stones co-founder North Korean refugee Jihyun Park says: "One program that gave me hope was Teach North Korean Refugees in Seoul. I am proud to have been a student and now to be collaborating with it to bring more opportunities to refugees in the UK and around the world."
Stepping Stones co-founder Hyeongsoo Kim, currently a student in TNKR, says: "Thanks to TNKR, many North Korean refugees can speak out to tell their stories to the world and to raise awareness. I've seen so many friends who improved so much after studying in TNKR. Within the NK defector community, TNKR is the name that comes up when people talk about ways to learn English or tell your story."
Here's a Korea Times column by TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue explaining how this project began.
Please help our effort to help NK refugees in the UK by making a donation. Other donation options including direct donations to the TNKR bank account, PayPal, 501(c)3 deductions, CMS and others are here.
Please help me urge North Korea to confirm the fate of my father and return him to South Korea!
On December 11, 1969, my father went on a domestic business trip on a Korean Airlines (KAL) flight. Soon after takeoff, his plane was hijacked by a North Korean agent and forcibly taken to North Korea.
There is not a single reason in this world that my father should remain forcibly detained in North Korea. But for 48 years, my family and I were forced to endure the pain of this cruel separation.
There are two reasons for my family’s suffering.
One reason is that the North Korean government has committed an act of international abduction and is refusing to admit the truth.
Another reason is our collective failure to respond to North Korea’s criminal behavior and to demand my father’s release. Our own inaction has served to legitimize North Korea’s criminal action.
All this is coming back to haunt us, creating an endless list of new victims.
One such person on this list is the late Mr. Otto Warmbier, a young American who tragically lost his life.
When I turned 34 years old, I began searching for ways to get my father back. Now, I am 50.
For the past 16 years, I have fought alone, doing everything I could think of to break the silence surrounding my father’s abduction. I never gave up hope that there were people out there willing to listen to the call of justice, and that a day would come when they will hear my voice. But for so many years, no one heard my message.
But then, I witnessed a miracle. In March 2016, I met TNKR, and they helped me create “TEAM HWANG,” a group of volunteers committed to help me raise awareness about my father’s abduction. And on May 30, 2017, the UN Human Rights Chief highlighted my father’s case in his annual report, shining a renewed light on the pain and suffering of my family.
The UN report has shown the world that my father’s abduction is very much a present-day and ongoing case of a serious human rights violation.
With this renewed focus, I plan to:
(1) call out to the world about the serious human rights violation related to the 1969 KAL hijacking incident; and
(2) demand my father’s ‘repatriation’ under the rules of international law and humanitarian principles.
Raising international awareness is the key to sending a strong message to the North Korean government that they must ‘confirm’ the fate of my father and ‘repatriate’ him to South Korea.
I humbly ask you to support my efforts to reach out to the international community.
Your support will empower me to raise international awareness about my father’s case, which is the key to bringing my father home.
Thank you very much.
* Representative, KAL Abductees' Repatriation Committee (KALARC)
* TNKR Fellow in Human Dignity
There are so many organizations out there that take donations, but do not effectively use the money to help those that are in need. After working for TNKR for 6 months, I can say that 100% of your donation goes to help North Korean refugees. The co-Founders don't earn any money, as a matter of fact no one that works at TNKR earns a single dime. It is the most amazing organization for you to support. You can be assured that your money will truly help improve the lives of North Korean refugees.
I will match donations up to $700 US.
The NGO Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) is very excited to work with students from the Asia Christian Schools Conference (ACSC)! Students attending the 2018 ACSC in Seoul will learn about how to help North Korean refugees. Further, ACSC students will hear from, and in some cases volunteer with North Korean refugees.
Many students at the ACSC will visit the volunteer-based nonprofit organization Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR), meet and hear from college-level English-speaking North Korean refugees, and participate in a meaningful service project.
Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) is a volunteer-based nonprofit NGO that empowers North Korean refugees to find their own voice and path through education, advocacy, and support.
**TNKR in the Korean Times newspaper on February 26, 2018: “North Korean defectors speak about ‘little big heroes’”: http://m.koreatimes.co.kr/phone/news/view.jsp?req_newsidx=244720
**TNKR in USA Today newspaper on January 3, 2018: "North Korean defectors must overcome big challenge once free: Learn English": https://usat.ly/2CxyrJQ
**Watch TNKR Special Ambassador Cherie Yang's TEDx Talk, "My Arduous Journey for Freedom, Family, and the Future”: https://youtu.be/grNEeGe6i5o
To help North Korean refugees adjust to life in South Korea, continue to allow TNKR to provide free English language learning opportunities for refugees, and pay for our education center, TNKR relies on donations. We invite you to support TNKR by sharing this fundraiser or setting up your own.
Thank you for your support!
Tutors joining the May 20 Matching session.
On August 25, TNKR will be holding its 8th English speech contest. Coaches who will be helping refugees get prepared will be setting up fundraisers to support TNKR.
Tutors joining TNKR's 78th Language Matching session
Tutors joining TNKR are raising money for the organization!
Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) is a nonprofit organization located in Seoul, South Korea, dedicated to helping refugees adjust to living outside of North Korea. TNKR aims to assist North Korean refugees in preparing for their future and transitioning to life outside North Korea by providing them with free English learning opportunities. Since its establishment in 2013, the organization has provided free education to more than 300 refugees who are now building their own future in a free world.
Volunteer today and help us make a difference in the refugee community. TNKR volunteers keep education programs free for refugees by organizing fundraisers, host refugee-speaking contests and events, and participate in humanitarian conferences.
Enter an amount to donate to our general fund: