2011 August–Wow, was I busy…

I realize that many people who see me deeply involved in North Korean refugee issues can’t imagine that I have ever done anything else, like I fell off the back of a potato truck one day and woke up wanting to help NK refugees. Well, where were you during 2011-12?

* I was the MC and organizer for Seoul-based events hosting politicians and academics from Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and the United States.
* I was the MC and co-organizer of a conference on the Korea-EU free trade agreement one week after the agreement went into effect in July 2011.
* I was a featured speaker at conferences in Shanghai, Colorado, Virginia and was a VIP guest at a conference in Malaysia. Colorado in April 2012 was particularly great, I led a three hour seminar with American politicians and political activists.
* I became a regular guest on a radio show based in China.
* After I became the Director for International Relations at the Center for Free Enterprise, it went from being unranked in the Global Think Tank Rankings to being ranked in three different categories in the 2012 evaluation of global think tanks.

CFE placed 16th in the category of “Top 45 Think Tanks in China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea.” Among think-tanks outside of the United States of America, CFE went from unranked to 78th.

CFE went from unranked to 106th in the world out of 1,647 nominated think tanks and a total of 6,603 think tanks around the world. Among 35 think tanks in South Korea, the CFE ranked fourth behind the Korea Development Institute, Asan Institute, and Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. Going from unranked to number 4 was incredible.

My colleagues said it was because of one man: Casey Lartigue. (Okay, okay, but Casey also thanked the CEO who took a chance on him, as well as the team members who did the real heavy lifting.)

I loved the many events, but the one that was particularly satisfying was hosting professor Aristides Hatzis from the University of Athens. He gave a major address in downtown Seoul in August 2011 about the failure of welfare populism in Greece. He was interviewed by numerous Korean print, radio and TV outlets, and was invited to address members of the National Assembly. He was favorably mentioned in President Lee Myung-bak’s address to the nation that month. It was a worldwind couple of days that Prof. Hatzis and Yulie Foka-Kavalieraki were here.

That was a non-stop busy time for me, kind of like now, except that I was talking about economic freedom. I already had my eye on North Korea, but had no idea what to do about it. About a month after hosting Prof. Hatzis, I hosted a policy forum with Prof. Andrei Lankov. I was looking for clues about how to get involved with NK issues, and figured I would find a way by listening to him.

I wasn’t even sure it made sense to consider North Korea as part of my “International Relations” job. But I had gotten to know some North Korean refugees, and as I began to learn about the horrors of NK, my focus began to drift from speaking, writing, and organizing events focused on economic freedom, to trying to do something effective about North Korean refugees.

I didn’t join Facebook until July 2012, these photos were taken in August 2011. Before I joined Facebook, people would ask me if I was going to post the photos on Facebook. I was asking then, “Why would I do anything like? What’s the point of Facebook?”

Anyway, except for possibly gaining a few pounds and a different focus, I’m the same guy I was then…

1 Hatzis (1)
I was the MC and organizer of this conference featured Aristides Hatzis of the University of Athens.
1 Hatzis (2)
Prof. Aristides Hatzis of the University of Athens.
1 Hatzis (3)
Interviewed on TBS 101.3 radio. Actually, I declined, I don’t know much about Greece, but the producers/staff insisted, so I joined, but didn’t say much and deflected the questions to Prof. Aristides Hatzis. My role had been to make sure he got to the station on time…
1 Hatzis (4)
We had a nice time at TBS eFM 101.3, then took some photos after the interview.
1 Hatzis (6)
with Eun Hee Cho, then deputy mayor of Seoul.
2 (2)
I was the MC and organizer of the August 9, 2011 forum featuring Prof. Aristides Hatzis of the University of Athens.

2 (0)  Continue reading 2011 August–Wow, was I busy…

Project helps defectors adjust to a new society (Joongang Daily, 2015-03-30)


Project helps defectors adjust to a new society

Expat Networking Clubs in Korea 3. Teach North Korean Refugees

Mar 30,2015

Staff members from Teach North Korean Refugees take part in a matching session on March 21, in Seocho District, southern Seoul. The project partners North Korean defectors with volunteer English tutors. By Park Sang-moon

A North Korean defector who asked to go only by his English name, Ken, recalled graduating from college and later volunteering to join the military.

Unlike most of his fellow countrymen, whose service is mandatory, he explained he was exempt, for a reason he wished not to specify.

“Sometimes I think I’m crazy. For 10 years!” he said in broken English, explaining that he couldn’t understand how he convinced himself to sign up in the first place.

Having spent a decade – his entire 20s – in the North Korean army, he was quick to add that he had been resolute when making the choice.

“North Korean broadcasting had been brainwashing me from the time I was 1 years old until I was an adult. I had to be loyal to the Kim family,” Ken added, referring to the reclusive state’s ruling dynasty.

His affiliation with the military was his way of showing he was part of this unconditional personality cult, he said.

As the 35-year-old told his story, Canadian national Amelie Lacroix, who teaches English to kindergarten and elementary school students here, listened with widening eyes and occasional expressions of shock.

“For 10 years? Were you aware you’d be serving that long? How was it?” she asked, leaning toward Ken from across a coffee table at a three-story cafe in Jongno District, central Seoul, as if to coax him into speaking up.

In a blunt tone, Ken answered: “I was extremely hungry. The government provides 700 grams of rice every day, but other organizations and other higher-rank officials take it and take it. Maybe if I’m lucky, I get 400 or 550 grams per day. But only rice. No side dishes.”

The pair, who spoke over a cup of hot americano and imported chocolate-banana cookies, both belong to the Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) project, which matches defectors with volunteer English tutors.

Co-founded in March 2013 by Lee Eun-koo and Casey Lartigue, the group has so far directly matched more than 170 defectors and 240 teachers, the latter mostly foreigners teaching English at local schools or private academies.

The program consists of two tracks: In Track 1, titled “Finding My Own Way,” refugees are matched with tutors who help them to generally improve their English; while Track 2, also “Telling My Own Story,” supports refugees seeking to become public speakers and links them with coaches who help them with self-expression.

Ken and Lacroix’s lesson last week was their first Track 2 session after having been introduced to each other a week earlier through TNKR.

“In university, I studied international relations and modern languages, so it’s really interesting to be close to North Korean issues [through this program] and to see how such people lived under such a [Communist] regime,” said Lacroix, 23.

TNKR typically holds monthly matching sessions for each track, in which a group of defectors and tutors gather to introduce themselves and select their partners.

Seven refugees and 10 tutors are chosen for a session in the order they submit applications and pass screening procedures. A waiting list can hold up prospective participants for a couple months.

Before the matching session, the TNKR staff hosts an advance orientation session with selected tutors to hand out basic instructions. Their resumes are then distributed to the refugees so the students can preview their candidates.

In order to be matched with a defector, participation in both the orientation and matching session is compulsory.

At a matching session, tutors introduce themselves one by one, highlighting a preferred time, location and their teaching skills, followed by the refugees, who do the same. The students then take turns selecting as many teachers as they want and exchange contact information to set up their first lesson.

“Koreans can join as teachers, too,” said Lartigue, who works as the director of international cooperation at Freedom Factory, a local think tank. “Some refugees can’t speak in English and want bilingual teachers.”

The matched pairs are required to meet a minimum of twice a month, 90 minutes each time, for three months at agreed upon locations like coffee shops. To make sure no one slacks, the TNKR staff asks everyone to submit short reports after each lesson.

“When we first started, we weren’t monitoring, and the result was that they never contacted us,” said Lartigue. “There were some problems, such as classes being canceled.”

One way to get around that, he added, was to allow the defectors to choose more than one tutor so that they could bounce between different tutors and choose whoever fit best with their schedule.

In terms of qualifications, the staff “typically lets everyone through,” and then allows the students to do their own screening later into their lessons.

The staff warns foreigners beforehand, however, to never get too involved in the defectors’ stories unless the refugees initially speak up.

Peter Daley, an assistant professor in the General English Program at Sookmyung Women’s University, recalled his first Track 2 meeting with one student last week.

“She was reading her script, and then suddenly stopped to say, ‘Ah, it’s really hard for me to keep thinking about this.’

“I felt guilty because I kind of felt a bit detached. For me, it was like reading a book, to hear her say she hasn’t seen her brothers for a long time, and that she hopes they’re safe and that they can meet each other again.”

The 42-year-old, who said he joined TNKR out of sheer interest about totalitarian regimes and to help North Korean defectors adjust to their new lives, added that he wished to fulfill his humanitarian goals via the program.

“This is just one way of helping out. You can’t always change the world but you can have an impact on an individual,” he said.

One 23-year-old college student, who defected to South Korea in 2011 and declined to give his real name, said TNKR was a shot at a “normal life.”

“In order to get adjusted to the South, refugees must fill their minds with so many things they were restricted from in the North,” he said.

“English is an essential tool to live here, and joining TNKR, you can meet so many people from so many different backgrounds,” he continued in Korean, adding that the cosmopolitan vibe enabled defectors to broaden their prospective toward a world from which they were once completely shut out.

Lacroix, the Canadian, admitted that her parents expressed a little displeasure when she first told them she wanted to join the group.

“They said ‘Oh my God, be careful.’ Because it’s a normal Western reaction to think that North Korea has such an oppressive regime, and that it can affect people.”

Anxiously eyeing Ken – whom upon hearing her comments burst into laughter and joked, “What? I’m innocent!” – she added that her first lesson went much smoother than she had imagined.

“I think people are the same, and he has good intentions. I don’t worry,” she said.

For more information about TNKR, visit teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

2015-03-27 “Well done is better than well said.”

What makes Teach North Korean Refugees great? Well, many things! But lately, it is that it isn’t just Casey and Eunkoo doing everything. These days, I see messages with volunteers talking to each other about ideas, then the next thing I know, I get something in my email asking me to look at what they have done.

150784_618328631644469_1753818773293518865_nYes, it just happened! Karissa Bryant, one of our volunteers who came to us in January, jumped in immediately coaching some of our Track 2 Ambassadors. She also made it clear that she wanted to help us with other things.

She and Suzanne Atwill Stewart are working on documentation that will organize TNKR. They take my words, type it up, then like magic, we are more organized. It was instructive to me to see what they focused on, so it lets me know what I will focus on at future sessions. So it will make me a better co-director by seeing what they have done, and adjusting my approach to upcoming orientations.

1897870_618328978311101_2988367224489865052_nThanks, Suzanne Atwill Stewart and Karissa Bryant. As I often say, the TNKR volunteers are making me look so organized and professional.^^

In one of my stump speeches, I talk about how to be a good volunteer. We have people who not only come up wtih ideas, but they get them done. As I recently saw in the Kakao profile of one of our refugees, “Better well done than well said.”

Although I am cynical, so these days, “Even halfway done is better than well said.”



2015-03-29 Visiting Kyla’s TNKR tutoring session

1 (1)After another busy week of sucking the marrow out of life, this morning I slowed down to attend one of the Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) study sessions. These are always delightful, but this one was extra special because Kyla Hoggard has been tutoring one of the refugees weekly for five months.

Some of the matches fall apart shortly the first week because someone realizes they have forgotten something in his or her schedule. Others have big changes in their lives Some teachers just don’t have enough interesting material to teach one person for months or they get bored with one another. So 5 months of weekly tutoring is quite an accomplishment.

Kyla (left) introducing herself at TNKR English Matching session in October 2014. TNKR co-directors Casey Lartigue (center) and Lee Eunkoo (right).

Kyla makes the trip from Suwon to downtown Seoul by 11 a.m. every Sunday, so clearly she is committed to tutoring in TNKR.

It is also a learning experience for me to see how the classes are conducting, advice that I can give to other tutors and refugees in order to make TNKR stronger.

TNKR October 2014 English Matching session
TNKR October 2014 English Matching session

* * *
Oh, and I have been directly connected by another refugee who wants to join TNKR.

Kim Jong-Un: Earth Hour 2015 “Man of the Year”

In case you missed it, “Earth Hour” this year is/was Saturday 28 March between 8:30 PM and 9:30 PM in your time zone. That’s when people around the world turn off their lights for one hour to show concern for the Earth. The idea originated from the World Wildlife Fund.

Bouncing off Don Boudreaux, I would like to announce that Kim Jong-Un is the Earth Hour 2015 “Man of the Year.”

Kim Jong-Un, Earth Hour’s “Man of the Year” 2012-

I won’t read through his resume and accomplishments to make my case, I will point out this satellite photo showing the difference between the two Koreas.

North Korea, where every day is "Earth Hour."
North Korea, where every day is “Earth Hour.”

Not only is the dashing young dictator’s regime focused on keeping North Koreans in the dark more than just one hour a year, but he is now leading a government that is threatening to blow up other countries for various reasons. He has ordered his military to strike with “lightening speed”–apparently confusing lightening speed with lightening, and thinking that lightening can bring light to the country.

I suspect that he is a leading candidate to be Earth Hour’s Man of the Year next year, and probably every year after, as long as he is in power.

* * *

Prof. Boudreaux’s letter to World Wildlife Fund President Carter Roberts in 2010:

Earlier this week your organization sponsored another worldwide “Earth Hour,” an event in which people demonstrated their commitment to the environment by turning off their lights for one hour.

In light (no pun intended) of your dark view of industrial and
commercial activities, I recommend that the WWF create a special Lifetime Achievement Award for North Korea’s Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il.
As this nighttime photograph of the Korean peninsula
makes plain, the Dear Leader – like his father before him – works tirelessly to keep his nation’s carbon footprint to a bare minimum; in fact, if you look carefully you can see what is likely his, and only his, office light glimmering in Pyongyang.

North Koreans show their reverence for mother nature not with a mere Earth Hour but, rather, with an entire “Earth Lifetime.”

That’s true commitment!  Indeed, you might want to invite Mr. Kim to join your board.


Donald J. Boudreaux

2015-03-28 TNKR’s Angels

Back when Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) first started in 2013, we weren’t very organized. But we have had some positive signs:

* After a few months, we heard that refugees who had been in the project were referring friends to us.
* Refugees began to return to us.

The latest development that we just heard about:

* Another South Korean has recommended TNKR to a North Korean refugee!

We take this to be a very good sign about the level of respect and increased name recognition for TNKR.

This week, my co-director and I had a few meetings with North Korean refugees who want to enter the project (including a male who declined to be photographed and asked us not to explain details about him). We heard many great things about our project.

And we got to hear some great stories from North Korean refugees who are determined to improve their English. In one case, a newcomer was so enthusiastic that I couldn’t help but to have an impromptu English lesson with her. I am not a real teacher, I did my best to teach her, but I made it clear that her real tutors and coaches would be 1000 times better than I am. She is so ready to study English, she is clearing her schedule in anticipating of focusing on English like never before.

And another one who just started with us is throwing herself into studying English. I tried to give her some advice, but made it clear that I am not an expert.

We also had a great meeting with a North Korea expert who is advising us about an organizational change that we will be announcing soon.

One of the refugees is not the least bit interested in being a public speaker, but she needs to be able to present herself in English for business reasons. It is good when they come to us with specific goals, it will make it easier for her to match up with proper English helpers.

I am especially proud because refugees have been reaching out directly to me. One said she wasn’t sure that I would answer her plea for help, then was so shocked when I quickly connected her with my co-director, and we moved quickly to get her into the project.

And the praise for me, wow. One called me an “angel.” Then she said the same thing about Eunkoo.

Another refugee said we are changing her life, making her feel that she can reach her goals (she has wanted to study English since she arrived, but hasn’t found the right situation). And a male refugee said he can’t believe an American is leading this kind of helpful project for North Korean refugees.

We also have some respected South Koreans in the NKHR field who have reached out to us recently to let us know how much they support what we are doing and offered their expertise to us.

It has been another great week for TNKR, and apparently next week will be even better…

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 8a 8b IMG_2484 IMG_2488 IMG_2496 IMG_2500 IMG_2501 IMG_2506

I Believe North Korea (The Korea Times, May 26, 2010)

I (Still) Believe North Korea!

The Korea Times (May 26, 2010)
by Casey Lartigue, Jr.

I believe North Korea when it says the South started the Korean War in 1950. I didn’t believe former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin in 1994 when he released declassified documents revealing that North Korea started the war.

I believe North Korea didn’t send 31 commandos into Seoul in 1968 to kill Park Chung-hee. I believe North Korea didn’t send armed guerrillas onto the East Coast area of Uljin and Samcheok in 1968, or Heuksan in 1969, or Heukchon in 1970.

I believe the assassin who killed the South Korean first lady in 1974 wasn’t a North Korean agent. I believe several North Korean agents did not cross the border in October 1979. I believe the Earth moved and they only appeared to be in South Korea. I believe that three North Korean agents shot near the Han River in March 1980 were just out for a swim. I believe that North Korean agents shot to death in November 1980 in Hwanggando got lost while hiking. I believe that three North Korean agents shot to death in Namhae a few months later were part of a search party looking for those lost hikers.

I believe that three agents who infiltrated into Geumhwa in March 1981 were sleepwalking. I believe it is routine for North Korean agents to go to sleep in North Korea and magically wake up in South Korea the next morning, fully armed with grenades, machine guns and dreams of reunification.

I believe North Korea didn’t dig tunnels underground in the 1970s. I didn’t believe South Korean leaders when they showed the pictures of the tunnels to the world. I believe the mob of North Koreans who chopped up two U.S. army officers in 1976 did it in self-defense. I believe nine North Korean agents shot to death after their boat sank off the coast of Seosan in 1981 were lost fishermen. I believe that North Korean agents shot to death near the Imjin River in July 1981 and June 1983 were wayward scuba divers. I believe North Korea agents spotted along South Korea’s east coast in 1982 were tourists.

I believe that reports of North Korean soldiers entering the DMZ is South Korean and American propaganda to justify increased military spending. I believe the “imperialists and puppets” from the U.S., Japan and South Korea who are feeding starving North Koreans want war.

I believe North Koreans didn’t set off the bomb killing South Korean government officials in Rangoon in 1983. I believe the North Korean agent who killed three South Korean civilians in September 1984 was a South Korean agent. I believe that Kim Hyun-hee, who helped blow up a South Korean plane in 1987 (killing all 115 on board), is a forgetful woman who left her bomb on the plane.

I believe North Korean agents shot to death in May 1992 (three along the West Coast) and October 1995 (two in Buyeo) were bringing reunification messages. I believe that the North Korean government official who threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of flames” meant to say a “country of happiness.” I believe defectors from North Korea are, as a spokesman said, “rats,” “criminals,” and “cowards.” I believe that only rats, criminals and cowards would leave if North Korea opened its border. I believe North Korea is protecting South Korea from rats, criminals and cowards.

I believed North Korea when it said that its submarines “drifted” to the South because of “engine trouble” in 1996 and 1997. I believe North Korea cannot prevent such incidents because North Korean subs naturally drift to the South when they have engine trouble. I believe the South uses a large magnet to attract drifting North Korean subs.

I believe the dead man discovered washed up on a beach wearing North Korean clothing and armed with North Korean weapons was an actor. I believe the South Korean tourist shot to death in 2008 on Mt. Kumgang in North Korea shot herself. I believe the Hyundai Asan employee held hostage in North Korea last year for criticizing North Korea was lost for four months. I believe North Korea acted in self defense in 2000 when it threatened to “blow up” the Chosun Ilbo newspaper for “slandering our Republic” for claiming the North started the War. I believe it is ridiculous to suspect North Korea had a role in the sinking of the Cheonan warship on March 26.

I believe all of this because I don’t believe that North Korea actually exists. I believe Boris Yeltsin had the secret documents to prove it.

CJL (originally published 1997, with the following responses for that 1997 version)


PART I: Attacks


Your piece is hypnotic (because repetitive). I creates a certain effect at the level of claims to truth (about good and evil). Was this your only strategy or are there others? I’d bee interested in knowing.


Yes I did write: “Your piece is hypnotic (because repetitive). I creates a certain effect at the level of claims to truth (about good and evil). Was this your only strategy or are there others? I’d bee interested in knowing.” And then I never heard anything from you.

My sense was (and still is actually after rereading “I Believe”) that you are  simply interested in levelling all possible ground for making any claims about the past (i.e. truth claims, knowledge, etc.). Hence my question: Was your article’s point simply rhetorical? Poetical? Or some kind of discursive strategy? Certainly, the article, as it stands, can’t be “interpreted” or really be said to mean anything.

I used to enjoy that kind of stuff (I even spent 3 years writing a 227 page thesis called, “Genealogy as a Practice of Freedom: Michel Foucault’s Historical Critique”). Then, after I got some distance from the university, I began to see just how limited in value it really is. It’s just noise; just deconstruction. No?


I believe you believe what you believe is believable.  Personally, I  believe your beliefs belie your believability.  Believe me, I believe you’ll be leaving an unbelievable bevy of beliefs for budding believers.  I believe you are nuts.  I’ll be taking my leave now.  Believe it or not.


who cares



And I see that we have been graced of late
by the wit and wisdom of Casey J. Lartigue, Jr.


I was in Seoul the past few weeks so am tardy replying to your post.  So you don’t remember me?    It’s possible.  Back then I used
to use my Harvard account.  Anyway, congratulations on your recently published rant on the Texas atrocity– the very notion of “hate crimes” offends you, but your indignation is of somewhat obscure origin.  Is it simply that any form of “special consideration” is degrading — neutrality uber alles!?

And what was all that about “von” and Nazis?  I am well aware that von Mises was an Austrian.  I have read some of his work; have you?  Or is he just part of the canon by which your creed demarcates itself, the anti-Marx, so to speak?  The Fuhrer was also an Austrian, though it scarcely matters. The “von” implies an aristocratic lineage, real or fabricated, nothing more.

Anyway, labelling is a vice only if it is inaccurate — and political
incorrectness is a virtue only if it is well-reasoned.


Part II: Neutral (or leaning negative)


Let me clear.
So what you cannot believe is North Korea is not real thing?




I am living around Migum Sub station, working at government running organization, Korea Land Corporation.  I am 35 years old and could be classified as a sort of conservative type in terms of unification prospective in this peninsular.

My job in [deleted] is very much concerned with North Korea Project.

You sounds like having much informations about NK. I am afraid, however, to ask, first of all,

Are you positive to communicate with you who looks so progressive is no problem under present Korean law?


Having grown up during the USSR-USA, bipolar, cold war I find it a little too easy to take sides.  Add to that the eight years I spent with the US Military in Korea, and it becomes difficult not to fight the cold war on when someone sees a post that doesn’t fit in with  my idea of reality.

When people start digging in on their side of the North-South issue, the stimulus for intellectual discussion dies, and the shooting starts.  Perhaps it is a smaller scale view of the North-South issue, the players involved, and the events that occurred on the peninsula since the big three decided the fate of Korea.

With the recent events that occurred in Korea, such as the IMF bailout, labor, unrest, change in ROK Government, various scandals, North Korea’s threat to resume it’s nuclear program, not to mention the impact on Korea from situations exhisting in other Asian countries, I think there is plenty to discuss that is not a rehash of the last 40 years.

Everyday there are articles and editorials in the myriad of English and Korean language online news sources that offer content for discussion.


Political commentary aside, there was a report in the LA Times on the  day after the incident that  quoted the captain of the fishing vessel as saying that the sub was underway when south Korean ships and a Lynx  helicopter fired on it. It is interesting that this report was substantially different from other press reports and included a great  many more details then other reports.

According to that report, the sub was traveling north under power after  clearing the net and that a south Korea ASW helicopter and a south Korean navy ship fired on it, after which it rolled over.

What is also interesting is that the report was available at:
http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/ASECTION/t000058272.1.html but is not  available now and does not show up in an search of their archive. If anyone managed to save a copy, please post it.

Whatever the case, south Korea had every right to fire on it. Even if it was outside the five mile limit, it was in what many countries consider their security zone and there is a “technical state of war” between the  DPRK and ROK(Don’t you just love that term. They are at war 1) However, being anything but truthful about the whole matter leaves the door open  to doubt everything that south Korean defense apparatus says or does.  When you undermine trust, you lose the first battle in the war.



 (or nice enough my mother would approve)


Great work!
Your writing on I believe is very impressive and shows your depth of
knowledge. Why  do you know  all of this so well?



Hello Mr. Lartigue,

An interesting essay you posted on the net entitled “I Believe.”  Indeed, I have read some of your articles printed in the Korea Times.

Have you been in Korea for a very long time?  I’ve been here since 1992, and I must say, you have taken a most ambitious position in your support of the South Korean government.  Now, mind you, I am an avid supporter of the South, but, after having been here for a number of years, not quite as supportive as you.

Please do not take the position that I am criticising you, for that is not my position at all.  I, obviously, enjoy living here (if I didn’t I would have returned to my homeland years ago).  However, I must say, I hope that your position is not based on a sense of infatuation (a realm that many newcomers endure).  Would you care to elaborate on this matter?

You are bright, thorough author.  I look forward to hearing from you.



Congratulations Casey.

Seriously.  Sarcastic or not, that was a great piece of wit and I truly
enjoyed it considering I spent many of my years in Korea living with those later, forgotten infiltrations and provocations many of which hardly made the back part of the NYT or Wash. Post.

Looking back it’s all smoke and mirrors.


Yes, Casey, very nice article, but as I’m sure you’re aware, many seem to be dedicated to the kind of relativist ‘fairness’ ethic that dictates we treat all sides in the political struggle as moral equivalents, especially when the ‘other’ side is a left-leaning totalitarian nation.

Oh, and I’m sure you inadvertently left this one out, Casey, but you also didn’t believe reports about the border squirmish where that North Korean soldier crushed the larynx of the prone, helpless US soldier with his boot heel, did you?  What, there are photographs of that?  Well, who are you going to believe, North Korea or your own eyes?


That was the best article that I have ever had the
pleasure to read!  Let [progressives] and the rest gag on it.


Wonderful. Thank You.


Oh, and just one more thing: I’m going to print your message out and post it on my wall so I can remember it when I log into [Websites deleted], etc. again, Thanks


Dear Editor (forwarded to me by the Korea Times):

The article “I believe,” in today’s paper by Casey J. Lartigue Jr. was
among the best and truest and most amazing I’ve read – anywhere.

[Personal information deleted.] Were I to be staying in Korea, I’d try
to get in touch with him myself and encourage him to apply for the US Foreign Service. I’ve been American Ambassador to four or five
countries (Africa and the Middle East). We need people like him. The
Foreign Service can always use brains – but at times it can use, even
more, a sense of humor!

I’d urge him to write to the Board of Examiners, Foreign Service,
Department of State, Washington, DC 20520 – and to apply for the
written exam the next time it is given.

Would it be possible for this letter to be forwarded to Mr. Lartigue?
I enclose a stamped envelope.

My thanks and congratulations to Mr. Lartigue


[Name deleted]



May I sing… again… one day?

KC at Westin Chosun

Last night the Teach North Korean Refugees team had dinner with a couple that has fallen in love with us. The wife in the couple called me a few days ago, asking, “May I speak to the World Famous Casey Lartigue?”

I told her that any world that I’m famous in has many problems…

Her husband had attended an event at which several a few TNKR Ambassadors spoke at, bringing the audience to tears. She wasn’t at the event, but her husband praised us so much, she wanted to learn more about us. So she emailed me, then called. She remembered that I had won the talent competition at the Harvard Club Korea Alumni dinner a few years ago. Yes, I sang live on stage at the Westin Chosun Hotel.

Without rehearsal, I sang a Korean song live on stage with a band (if you look at the photo, I had pulled up the lyrics because there are no do-overs live on stage with a band. So I wanted to be prepared because this wasn’t a karaoke with a few friends).

Before anyone gets confused or asks–NO. I am not a good singer. I know this because if I could sing well, I would be singing for a living. North Korea would have never heard of me because I would either be a world-famous singer or singing in nightclubs or on street corners.

Okay, so maybe you think I am being humble. I wish. Then maybe you are wondering how a lousy singer won a talent contest? Easy.

The competition.

Inspired by someone remembering my musical prowess, I’m going to contact the folks at Harvard Club Korea, ask them to have another talent contest–and to invite back those same competitors I had from a few years ago…

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the video music I was in a few years ago, as a rapper, not as a singer.

2015-03-25 Another glorious day, how could tomorrow be better?

Recently I have had several volunteers and students in the Teach North Korean Refugees project tell me how inspiring it has been for them. Some say it has changed their lives, reminded them to take charge of their lives. There are some days that that I think, “Wow, that meeting/event/conversation was fantastic, what could top that?” But then the next meeting will be as fantastic or even better.

Meeting 1: The day started with co-directors Lee Eunkoo and Casey Lartigue having an 8 am texting session with a North Korean refugee who is extremely excited to be joining up with TNKR. She wants Track 1, Track 2, and if we had Track 3, she would join it without even asking us what it is…

Meeting 2: TNKR Operations Manager Suzanne Atwill Stewart followed through on her plan to visit me at my office to improve our coordination. By that, I mean that she reminds me about my ideas, and puts legs and arms to them. We had a great talk about many things and came to many agreements/I relented. We are developing a fantastic working relationship, mutual respect and admiration, and always pushing ahead to develop TNKR.

Meeting 3: Lunch with the Freedom Factory team. Lot of laughs. The tone is set by CEO Kim Chung Ho 김 정호. It helps that he pays for lunch every day, motivating me to come to the office every day…

Meeting 4: We were joined by a talented young lady who wants to join up with the TNKR team. Suzanne Atwill Stewart and I introduced TNKR to her, then we outlined some possible options for her. I noticed Suzanne taking a lot of notes while I was talking, so she will really know my thinking cuz I just say it, but she tracks and organizes it…

The great thing about the meeting is that when I told the possible volunteer that I would post the photo of us on Facebook, her response was, “GREAT!” Yes, she has passed the first test of being on the TNKR team…

Meeting 5: Suzanne Atwill Stewart is now one of the coaches of Cherie Yang, Special Ambassador of TNKR. Cherie now has 6 coaches and tutors, studies relentlessly. Neither sleet, nor rain, nor snow, not even a head cold can keep her from studying. They studied together today at the office. Watching Suzanne teach English reminded me why I could never be a real English teacher. She is focused, corrects on the spot until it is done right. Rob Paige, former secretary of education and former football coach, once told me in a discussion that he had learned as a coach, “Do it right, or do it twice.” Coach Suzanne Atwill Stewart seems to have the same approach–do it right, or do it twice…

Meeting 6: We wrapped up the day by having dinner on the US army base with some of TNKR’s newest fans. One of the hosts enjoyed a presentation we recently made, and when his wife heard about us, she contacted me and invited me for lunch. Of course, I ended up inviting the entire TNKR team, our hosts kept saying, “Of course!” So we all had a wonderful time. It was another wonderful day. How could tomorrow beat this?^^

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