2015-12-08 I can just listen…

Leeann Roybal-Shin stopped by the office. I was back at Freedom Factory office today.

Oh, LeeAnn had me laughing from start to finish! There are some times that I’m the most talkative person in the room…

Today was not one of those days.^^


Rachel Pearsall stopped by the office today. She’s another energetic lady! And it is really a special case.

She came to South Korea to volunteer for (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees. This is really a special thing. There are so many wonderful organizations out there, but she chose us.

She has many great ideas. She is the Party Planner for our Christmas party on December 18.

When I wonder how we can do something, she quickly has a suggestion, and springs into action. Of course, she usually has a lot to say as she is springing into action.^^


2015-12-06 Harvard Club Year-End Dinner Party

I joined the Harvard Club of Korea’s Year-End Dinner Party held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul.

The MC was Kim Byung-chan, guest speaker was Park Jin, US Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert gave the congratulatory address.

I took so many photos, one lady at the dinner asked me if I was part of the organizing party.^^

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2015-12-05 TNKR 39th Language Matching session

(TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees was founded in March 2013 by Casey Lartigue and Eunkoo Lee. TNKR became an official NGO in May 2015. We have held 39 sessions matching more than 200 refugees with 315 volunteers. Yesterday we matched 11 refugees with 17 volunteer tutors.
We have done this without accepting any government funding, as volunteers without anyone in the organization receiving a salary for doing this, and without having our own office.
* * *
We received great feedback from the tutors and refugees yesterday.
–I’m very excited to teach students so ready to learn.
–It was really great to see TNKR in action after reading so much about it.
–I’m happy to get started.
–I like the new venue, I’m forward to getting started again.
–TNKR is getting visibly more successful. It is great that so many tutors stayed, most usually leave before dinner.
–I was really nervous before I started, but it wasn’t as bad as II thought it would be to be chosen. I’m excited to get started, thanks for organizing this.
–The program is really clear, thorough. I’m excited to get started, I can see that they really want to learn.
–This is my second session, the first time was in April. Everything has really improved. There are no problems, there are more people, I hope to do more with TNKR.
–It was really informative, I’m hopeful that I can make a real difference. The tutoring tips were really useful, clear.
–I’m satisfied. I’m so satisfied! I got the three tutors I wanted! I’m really really happy to be here, this session reminded me that I need to study hard, I don’t want to disappoint the teachers.
–I’m really happy, I will do my best. I am thankful to the co-founders for creating TNKR.
–I’m so thankful to TNKR for creating this opportunity. I will study really hard.
–It is so nice to be back in TNKR. I am happy to meet such nice and lovely tutors. I will study really hard.
–I want to thank Casey and Eunkoo. I’m very satisfied to meet new tutors. I’m so rich, I have 11 tutors now.
–I came to Korea five years ago, I quit because II couldn’t handle the classes in English. Then I saw TNKR on KBS, and I decided to give it a chance. I am really thankful for this opportunity, I hope I won’t cause my tutors too much trouble because of my low English level.
–I feel really thankful that there are so many foreign tutors willing to help North Korean refugees.
–I couldn’t graduate from college because of English. I hope that I will be able to improve my English through TNKR.
–“Please take care of me.”
* * *
Yesterday one of our refugees remarked that he has trouble remembering all of the locations we have held matching sessions:
* Freedom Factory (Yoido)
* Mulmangcho Human Riights Institute (Bangbae)
* Bitcoin Center (Itaewon)
* Ahyndong Community Center (Gongdukk subway)
* Toz (Gangnam)

2015-12-05 TNKR Matching: Tips for Tutors by Aromi

I often get feedback and comments from people about things I should differently with (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees. There are some fine ideas, but very often, the suggestion is that “somebody” should do it. As I have written, I hate “somebody.” Because when it is time to get work done, then it turns ot that somebody is nobody! TNKR was able to get started because Eunkoo Lee was the first Somebody with TNKR who followed through, and got things done. If not for her, there would have never been a TNKR, I would probably stll be talking about the South Korean economy or singing in rap videos.
Last June, we had another Somebody join us.
Aromi Yook joined (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees as a tutor. She gave us a suggestion about how we could improve our language matching sessions.
As I said, I often get suggestions from people who have no intention in actually doing anything other than adding to my to-do list.
As usual, hearing someone give a suggestion, I turned it around and suggested that she is probably the person to get it done.
Much to my surprise, she did! Then she made another suggestion, and she followed through again.
Then she made another suggestion: New tutors might need an orientation. Well, for quite some time, I had been saying out loud that we need a teacher trainer or someone who can do an orientation. Then she was saying she had specific ideas about how to get it done.
Aromi Yook, Academic Adviser! That’s right, she then became Academic Adviser of TNKR.
We humbly started TNKR Matching sessions with a one hour tips session by Aromi. Just a few tutors showed up the first time. Yesterday, of the 17 tutors who signed up and properly followed the process, 16 tutors joined the Tips session for tutors.
* * *
I Hate “Somebody”
by Casey Lartigue
The Korea Times
April 2015
* * *
To be a good volunteer, use your brain
by Casey Lartigue
The Korea Times
December 2012
2015-12-05 Tutors Tips (17)
2015-12-05 Tutors Tips (1)

2015-12-04 International students and Korean volunteers

After i got back to the office I had several students stop by as part of their project to help TNKR. Rorry Ambers Late is leading up this project.

We also have a  South Korean student who was inspired by a presentation TNKR did at a university a few months ago. She is joining us as a translator. She emailed me on Wednesday or Thursday, her first assignment is due on Monday!

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2015-12-04 CFE

During 2011-12, I had an incredibly active time as the Director for International Relations at the Center for Free Enterprise in South Korea. The most significant thing is that the organization went from unranked to the #106 ranked think tank in the world. Okay, for those only interested in the top 20, that may not sound great, but to go from unranked (top 150) to #106 out of 6,603 in the world?
That’s damn good!
Back then I wasn’t discussing North Korea at all–I was writing about and discussing economics and politics. My favorite activity was organizing events bringing speakers from around the world. Yesterday I stopped by to check out the new office. CFE president Hyun Jinkwon gave me a tour and update about what CFE has been doing.
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2015-11-28 TNKR Orientation

We had delightful orientation sessions getting ready for our 39th TNKR Matching session set for this Saturday. 16 tutors and 10 refugees joined us for separate sessions.

I was delighted to hear from the tutors that they feel the program is really organized, clear. So many of them kept saying it is “awesome” and “fantastic” and that they can’t wait to join.

And we got GREAT feedback from the refugees. We have been the in-house tutoring program for two months, it has been great in many ways.

Of the 10 refugees who attended the orientation, 2 are returnees, 6 have been through in-house tutoring, and 2 are brand new. So we have a very good idea about the 8 who have studied with us before. The in-house tutors are preparing reports about the refugees who have been in the program, meaning the Matching program tutors will have an idea about their levels and interests before they start. It also means the first session won’t be wasted.

I was thrilled that one of the refugees I was meeting for the  first time wanted to take a photo with me, and praised me so much! The refugees usually ask about me, so I introduced myself. They applauded me!!!

Some feedback from refugees joining the matching session:

“I’m really happy when I speak in English.”

“After being in the in-house tutoring program, I have a better idea about how I should study.”

“I was in the program before. Now my English studying is stronger and sharper than before. I want a real teacher who has a curriculum or organized materials.”

“I am impressed TNKR is so learner-centered. I feel a duty to start hard.”

“I waited since August to  join, I was ready to give up. I couldn’t join in-house tutoring because of work. Now, I have my chance, I am not going to waste it.”

“I was in TNKR last year. Now, it is so much more organized, professional. I hope to improve my interview skills.”

“Joining in-house tutoring, I could quickly see that I needed to improve my pronunciation. In-house tutoring was fun, I’m sorry because I am sure my teacher had a lot of trouble because of my low English level.  I will study harder, I’m so happy to have learned something new. I also have learned that I must do more self-studying.”

“My in-house tutor prepared me really well. She corrected my grammar, brought practice sheets, focused on my pronunciation. I hope to join the English speech contest  next year..






2015-11-30 Yeonmi Park visits TNKR, plus international students

  • What an honor! My delightful former co-host and colleague Yeonmi Park stopped by the TNKR office to say hello! For a while, I was seeing her almost every day when we worked together in 2014, but I guess I have only seen her three or four times this entire year. She is now an international speaker and human rights advocate, but before that, she was my TV podcast co-host, ambassador to TNKR, and colleague at Freedom Factory. Thankfully, she is still a great friend.^^
  • After spending the early afternoon at the office, I met with international students to prepare for upcoming TNKR events. We had the meeting at the law firm that will be hosting our Christmas party on December 18.
  • 6 hours of in-house tutoring plus planning to add additional features to the program.

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