2015-11-20 North Korea Network fundraiser for TNKR

What a pleasure! I was the featured guest at a fundraiser hosted by The North Korea Network. Jason West is the organizer/owner of it. There were so many special things about the night.

* There are many worthy organizations. So it is an honor that Jason chose us as one of the organizations to raise for. He held a fundraiser for us earlier this year, making it doubly special. Some people will hold a fundraiser for you once, but not twice!

* I had the opportunity to introduce (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees to many people who had never heard of us. Many of them donated money to us and also cheered me on!

* Good to meet you in person, Ji Soon Ja!

* Always great to see you, Shaquille James. We seem to alternate between meeting in Seoul and Washington. So see you in Seoul, soon!

* Grace Jo, what a surprise! Let’s be in touch from now.

* MinJeong Ko], I will be expecting to see you in Seoul, and having you as a volunteer with (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees.

* And special thanks to Bonchun Chicken for allowing us to hold the fundraiser there, and for giving us 10% of the revenue from food and drinks.not only with our guests, but the people at the table next to us!

* At times, it seems there are more North Korea related events going on in Washington, DC., than there are in Seoul.

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2015-11-20 Thank you, Atlas Network

I have been a fellow with the Atlas Network since December 2013. I stopped by the office today, but didn’t have much time to hang out because of a fund-raiser.
Atlas gave (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees a matching donation target–and less than a year later, we are on the edge of hitting the target. I was hoping to make this visit to collect the check, but we are still a bit short of raising enough money to hit the matching target, so we will have to wait a bit. But thankfully, it won’t be long!
Eunkoo Lee and I have been leading TNKR for more than 2 years. At first, it was out of pocket, we didn’t actually plan on building an organization. But now that we have had 200 refugees come through the program and have another 50 on the waiting list, we have decided to focus on this as much as possible. With this matching grant we will have an opportunity to actually have a budget for the upcoming year, rather than going from month-to-month.
Atlas has been great to us, giving us the matching donation opportunity, but also providing us with other strategic assistance (training, fundraising advice, highlighted us several times).
Two years ago people would often tell me that I needed a paypal link, a donation page, a crowd sourcing page. I post those various links, but the reality is that we have received very few donations from people seeing the link. Probably 90 percent of our donations have come after I have asked people DIRECTLY. But it is still a habit for me to post this.^^

2015-11-21 Protest in front of Chinese Embassy (Washington, DC)

Bad news: 9 North Korean refugees who had managed to escape to Vietnam have been captured and been shipped back to China, pending being shipped back to North Korea. I say “shipped” because they are like items owned by others, with their destinations being determined by others.
You can read about it here.
Unfortunately, this happens far too often. My life changed in early 2012 when 30 North Korean refugees were arrested and were sent back to China. There were 77 days of protest, including a hunger strike by Prof. Park Sun-young.
I protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Seoul several times during 2012 during that 77 day protest and at this same Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, in April 2012 when I was on a trip to the USA to attend a workshop. Some of the same people who were at that protest in 2012 were there today.
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2015-11-12 Teachers College, Columbia University


  • Wanna know how good TNKR is? Even great people at Columbia University believe it is great. Teach North Korean Refugees is now being analyzed by graduate students at The Teachers College, Columbia University as part of a case study. TNKR wasn’t even an official organization until May 2015, but we have already had many great things happen. With both the professor and students in the class analyzing us–yes, asking some pointed questions, too–then TNKR should be even stronger in 2016 in helping refugees find their way and tell their stories.
  • Have you ever told someone that you were honored by something they were doing, and they try to convince you that they are even more honored to collaborate with you! That’s what happened tonight with the professor at Columbia University who opened her classroom to me.  She and the students were asking me plenty of pointed questions about TNKR. Based on their responses, I was giving them some unorthodox answers!
  • I take it as a good sign that both the Teachers College at Columbia University and that professors and students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education also want to know about TNKR.
  • Anyone who reads my column knows that I am easily bored by talkers who don’t get to action items. Often I get questions that are pointless or irrelevant, based on the questioner’s pre-conceptions that have nothing to do with TNKR (or what I might have just said in a speech).  But the Teachers College students were asking questions that were connected to actual suggestions, rather than just curiosity or accusations.1 2 3 4 5 IMG_6294 IMG_6298 IMG_6300 IMG_6302 IMG_6307


2015-11-02 Yonhap News 탈북자에 무료 영어강의 주선 미국인 라티그씨

(서울=연합뉴스) 이봉석 기자 = 남한으로 넘어온 탈북자들에게 무료로 영어를 가르쳐주는 프로그램이 있다.

한국에 거주하는 미국인 케이시 라티그 씨가 한국인 이은구(36) 씨와 함께 만든 ‘TNKR'(Teach for North Korean Refugees)가 그것이다.

오래전부터 북한 인권에 관심이 많았다는 라티그씨는 탈북자들을 도울 일이 뭐가 있을까 함께 고민하던 중 이씨와 의기투합해 이 프로그램을 만들게 됐다.

이 프로그램은 일반적인 영어학원과 달리 영어를 배우고자 하는 탈북자와 영어를 가르치고자 하는 자원봉사자를 연결해 주는 방식으로 운영된다. 또 자원봉사자가 탈북자 한 명을 1대1로 지도하는 것이 원칙이다.

탈북자와 자원봉사자는 정기적으로 열리는 ‘매칭 데이’를 통해 상대방을 고를 수 있다. 서로 신뢰를 쌓고 학습 효율을 높이기 위한 목적이다.

라티그 씨는 탈북자 학생과 자원봉사자를 주로 페이스북과 카카오톡 같은 SNS를 통해 모집한다.

입소문이 나면서 현재 약 180명의 탈북자가 이 프로그램을 통해 영어를 배우고 있다. 대기 중인 탈북자는 수십 명이고 자원봉사자는 이보다 더 많은 약 280명이다.

라티그 씨는 “영어를 배움으로써 남한 생활에 한층 쉽게 적응하고 더 나은 직업을 찾고자 하는 탈북자들의 문의가 계속 늘고 있다”고 귀띔했다.

실제로 지난해 통일부가 탈북자 1만2천 여명을 대상으로 설문조사를 벌인 결과 40%가 넘는 응답자가 ‘외래어로 인한 의사소통’을 어려움으로 꼽았다.

라티그 씨는 탈북자들이 무대와 영어에 대한 공포를 한꺼번에 해소할 수 있도록 영어 웅변대회도 정기적으로 연다.

그는 “지난해 국제무대에서 북한의 인권 실상을 폭로해 유명해진 탈북자 박연미 씨 등이 이 프로그램을 통해 영어를 배웠다”고 소개했다.

강의가 영어에만 국한된 것도 아니다. 예를 들어 변호사를 꿈꾸는 탈북자가 있으면 법학용어 이해에 도움이 되는 라틴어도 배울 수 있도록 돕는다.

이태원에 위치한 사무실 임대료 등 필요한 경비는 후원을 받아 충당하고 있다고 한다.

라티그 씨는 현재 한국의 시민단체 프리덤 팩토리의 국제협력실장과 탈북자학교인 물망초학교의 국제협력자문위원을 맡고 있다.