The TNKR office was taken over today by an international TV news network. They interviewed TNKR’s co-founders, executive staff, tutors, interns, and, of course, North Korean refugees studying in TNKR!
All photos are in this slideshow, you can scroll down to see short summaries.
Bonghee is a public figure, so it is fine to clearly identify who she is. She recently published the book her father wrote almost two decades ago before he was repatriated to North Korea. She joined TNKR earlier this year, first to improve her English, then hopefully later she will be able to give speeches in English.
We sometimes have trouble when tutors learn about a refugee who is currently or on the verge of being a public figure, they want to go beyond just tutoring in English and want to get into the public figure aspects or even start working on their speeches before they have mastered English at an intermediate level. We try to have a process so refugees aren’t rushed to the stage before they are ready to give speeches in English and we also want tutors to stick to tutoring.
Bonghee had a class with one of our interns (Alice) then was interviewed for the TV feature about TNKR.
They next interviewed Jade, who has been in TNKR since either late 2014 or early 2015. In her early days she did not show her face to the public, but that changed within the last year or so.
It is remarkable how much her English has improved since she first joined us. Whatever we have going on, she joins. She has been noticed by other organizations and even governments for her thoughtful analysis about North Korean issues. She is always laughing and smiling, and takes her classes very seriously. We also hear from her tutors how much they love tutoring and mentoring her.
They interviewed the co-Founders to learn a bit about TNKR. But they already had a good idea, they say that TNKR is well known among reporters in South Korea and abroad. They added that when it comes to English and North Korean refugees that TNKR is the first place that reporters will mention.
They did tell me, as they tell everyone, “not to be nervous.” I started laughing. When discussing TNKR, I’m like a chef cooking in my own kitchen. During the interview, I think I gave long answers to each question, which will drive the translators and editors crazy.
First they interviewed me in English, then Eunkoo in Korean. The day before, she cleaned my desk without permission, which started a fight. I suspect she was doing so because she was planning on sitting at my desk for the interview.
Academic Coordinator Janice Kim
Janice usually isn’t available during the daytime for interviews because she has a regular job and volunteers at TNKR during her spare time (meaning, every single moment she isn’t at her paid job).
Intern Alice Hwang
They also interviewed Alice, a summer intern who is helping with tutoring, translation, and many other tasks!
Two years ago when Eunkoo’s nephew came to visit, he seemed to be intent on destroying TNKR. Today? He could care less, he was slacking off the whole time, watching things on an iPad. From destruction to apathy, in two years. In the last photo, you can see us both at work.
Our intern (Sara) probably had the toughest role of all, babysitting Eunkoo’s nephew.