About This Fundraiser
As many of you know, I am deeply moved by the situation on the Korean peninsula. After being liberated from decades of brutal Japanese colonial rule, Korea (and many Korean families) were divided in two. Most are familiar with the prosperity of the South, which now possesses of the strongest economies in the world.
In terms of North Korea, however, people in the West are mainly familiar with (largely due to the influence of overly sensationalist media) a veil of absurdity created by the Kim Regime's bellicose, often flamboyant rhetoric and seemingly otherworldly, draconian laws, policies and punishments. This unique situation creates some sort of collective worldwide ignorance: people often forget that North Koreans are perhaps the most brutalized people on the planet.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights' 2014 Report documented extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion, and other sexual violence in North Korea. It concluded that the “gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” Freedom of religion, movement and information (among others) are systematically repressed. Offenders of seemingly insignificant crimes (such as stealing rice in order to feed their starving family) are sent to forced labor camps or executed (sometimes publicly). Their families, whether or not they were complicit in the crime, often meet a similar fate - they are then banished to the lowest ranks of society for generations to come.
For North Korean defectors, the prospect of this happening to them and their families is very real. Only after they cross the border between China and North Korea, evade both the Chinese police (who actively send refugees back to North Korea) and prolific human trafficking practices *and* cross the border between China and Thailand (the most common route) can they actually achieve freedom. After being detained for a month in Thailand and interrogated/rehabilitated in South Korea, they then face another uphill battle - assimilating to South Korean life and finding a job, both of which are exasperated by a lack of education in English and widespread discrimination. Beginner-level English classes are available, however in reality they are surrounded by "false beginners", as South Koreans start taking English classes in third grade (in other words, they already most likely know the alphabet, common phrases etc.).
Teach North Korean Refugees is a fantastic NGO because it provides North Korean defectors with quality one-on-one English lessons for no cost - it is completely tailored to their level and their interests. It gives them the tools to graduate from a university, acquire a job and find their English voice (a means of sharing their plight on the world stage) in a professional, secular manner. It gives them the chance to lead a fulfilling, free life that otherwise would be out of reach.
About General Fund
In November 2016, the Ministry of Unification in South Korea reported that the number of North Korean refugees escaping to South Korea had surpassed 30,000. Various media report various challenges that refugees face in adjusting to South Korea. An estimated 35 percent of refugees are unemployed, 80 percent work in menial jobs, and refugees who are employed earn 50% of what South Koreans earn.
Escaping North Korea is the first battle many refugees face. Many report that English is a major barrier for many of them, as they struggle with "Konglish" words that have seeped into the South Korean language. TNKR helps refugees by connecting them with volunteer tutors. Since its founding in March 2013, TNKR has connected more than 250 refugees with 492 volunteer tutors and coaches.