Researchers who find TNKR naturally often want to do research on refugees. We are very careful with these requests, we don’t want refugees to feel used. They get investigated when they first come to South Korea, continue to get probed when they are at a Hanawon re-education center, then continue to get probed when they get support from NGOs, government and government agencies and others they come into contact with, and there are endless requests for them to do interviews for media or researchers. So when they get to us, they are relieved to know we don’t do any data-mining and discourage volunteers from trying to probe their lives in North Korea. When we ask questions, we keep them focused on our activities and clearly explain why we are asking.
Some researchers want to do research on volunteers in TNKR. And then there are the requests like the one yesterday, they wanted to interview me. It took a few minutes for it to sink in. I’m used to reporters wanting to interview me, but having researchers trying to get at the essence of Casey Lartigue Jr.?
Before meeting them, I had figured only one hour would be enough, but it was clear that they had read a lot about TNKR, so it meant we could skip over most of the basics that is readily available on the Internet. We ended up talking for more than 2 hours.
Even though the interview was about me, I invited Eunkoo Lee to add her input. She often gets underestimated because she is not into social media, she wants to do her work. If she worked for the South Korean government, and was in charge of executions, I assure you that the executions would get done, and on schedule.
That she is not a public figure often results in feminist and girl-powerites targeting me or complaining wrongly/stupidly that I don’t give Eunkoo a chance to talk. They don’t know that she focuses on working, and that so many times I bring her to interviews or include her in speeches even when I’m the only invited guest.
She added a lot of perspective yesterday about TNKR. This happened recently when I was invited on a radio station in Busan, at first they hesitated when I mentioned that she would be joining (and Eunkoo immediately backed away from the microphone). She had handled the logistics, but as often happens, Koreans will assume she won’t be joining.
I made it clear that she would be joining, and after an awkward moment, we were set up to do a joint interview. The radio people later agreed that the interview was great with her joining, as we added our different perspectives, agreeing and disagreeing about things.
I will talk to people who are informed (or even misinformed, so I can correct them) about TNKR for as long as they are available. Yes, I will cut it off after an hour when people show up completely uninformed or reveal themselves to be imbeciles.
Yesterday, they had many great questions and even asked a few that I am rarely asked, so they got some analysis and comments out of me that I haven’t presented elsewhere, except perhaps in some of my columns over the past few years.