Eben Appleton’s Updates

Eben

Eben Appleton is an Outreach Coordinator with TNKR and writes Eben’s Notes, updating readers on the latest news relating to TNKR.

Eben also has established a fundraiser for TNKR.

Eben Appleton – 08/02/2019 

Today is the 50th Wedding Anniversary for Charlie Appleton and me. The first thing that happened this morning, was a knock on the back door. It was the postman with a huge box marked “Korea.” What could it be? Surprise, surprise! It was the 6 foot poster of the 2019 World Youth Rally with the Co-founder of TNKR Casey Lartigue Jr.’s photo highlighted upon it.

I had many times told the TNKR co-founder it was the best photo I had seen of him. I commented that it was my favorite when he shared it on fb. Being a man with a great big heart, he decided to mail it to me as a gift. 

If you recall, Director Lartigue flew to TN on his US speech tour. I was honored by him sharing the stage with me, while we gave TNKR speeches together. At the time, he was our house guest. Where do you hang a 6 foot poster? What better place than the guest room in our cabin. The guest room has now been named the “Casey Lartigue, Jr. Sleep For Peace Room” in honor of his presence with us while he was here. He is also noted to be a peace loving man.

The poster was given to him, when Casey and three North Korean refugees discussed TNKR’s efforts and their definition of peace at the 2019 World Youth Rally. I guess he decided that I was the one who would enjoy it most. And he was right.

As for Charlie who has tolerated me for 50 years now, he patiently stood there handing me the drill to make holes and anchor my treasured gift to the wall.

For those of you at TNKR, who have photos of the TNKR wall in my home. Most are treasures I brought back from Seoul in 2017. Not many TNKR items adorn the wall, but who can deny this 6 foot poster has a TNKR wall all of it’s own.

Eben Appleton – 07/03/2019

No matter what you think of Trump’s foreign policy strategy, Casey Lartigue Jr.’s most recent column in the Korea Times is an analysis of President Trump as it relates to North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un. It is extrodinary in its content.

Lartigue, co-founder of TNKR, has raised issues that may be opposed to the opinions of CNN, Fox17 and the KT readers. Even this 78 year old grandma from TN has taken notice and been influenced by his words of wisdom and logical thinking.

Trump’s “Tweets,” “fire and fury” outbursts have not endeared him to the hearts of all the American people and the rest of the world. He is a politician of strategy. Read his book, “The Art of The Deal.”

In conclusion, columnist Lartigue has a unique perspective in his following words of wisdom.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 07/01/2019

Leading up to a forum marking Hanawon’s 20th anniversary, TNKR’s co-founder,Casey Lartigue Jr.’s, in his part 5 of a series in the Korea Times, asked North Korean refugees to share their opinions about their experiences in Hanawon. Hanawon is the resettlement center in South Korea that prepares the refugees for the adjustment they can expect after coming from a reclusive environment in North Korea and then released into South Korean society.

Naturally there would be fear mixed with anticipation about what the refugees can expect once they are out on their own. They must learn about South Korea and what it is really like, rather than what they expected it to be like.

In looking back on refugee opinions in Lartigue’s KT blog posts, parts 1,2,3 and 4, there appears to be a pattern of more unfavorable rather than positive experiences.

Although the NK refugee re-education facility was established to teach independence, offering many valuable tools to help them with adjustments, one refugee expressed that she felt her adjustment period was difficult after she was released from Hanawon. There was even uncertainty of how to “get into or leave a subway” stated one refugee.

Another refugee said she just “wanted to get out” of Hanawon, but later as she was looking back, she remembers she felt it was her “most comfortable time in SK and misses her time in Hanawon.” She stated that the difficult time was having no “social connections” after release. Another who had been a soldier in NK, gave the statement that some refugees felt Hanawon was boring; but it was a time of rest for him, giving him an opportunity to think about “studying and preparing for his life in SK and doesn’t even know what SK is like.”

In conclusion, attempting not to give my own opinion about Hanawon as a viable system, as an observer of what I have read from the opinions of several refugees, not knowing how the majority of refugees feel, at the very least the Hanawon system should be reevaluated and they should listen to what the refugees are saying in order to improve a system that is now 20 years in existence.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 06/22/2019

In blog posts published by Casey Lartigue Jr. in the Korea Times, North Korean refugees speak out about their experiences at “Hanawon,” the Settlement Support Center in South Korea.

Referenced in this article, part 4 of a series, is the appreciation this refugee has for the TNKR program that teaches NK refugees English. It is a program that offers support for the refugees. It surrounds them with a small community of caring dedicated volunteers, who not only protect the refugees‘ privacy, but help them gain the self-confidence they need to succeed. The TNKR team makes the refugees feel secure and loved in the process of teaching them English. TNKR helps open up opportunities in SK that may not be realized from any other English teaching programs, and helps them find their own way. Director Lartigue and his co-founder Eunkoo Lee are making it happen through their popular, well developed program.

The NK refugees have varied experiences once they are introduced to Hanawon. This refugee tells a compelling story. After the “intense security” measures, which are taken to be certain that the refugees are not NK spies, this refugee felt the system was not useful to her, but was harmful to her self-confidence.

At this point after entering the TNKR program, she gained that needed confidence. Now she is happier than she has ever been and looks forward to her future in South Korea.

On the other side of the coin, one refugee in blog post part 3, felt that her introduction to Hanawon was “so good,” and that she had learned many useful things for her introduction to life in SK.

Not every refugee is surprised by Hanawon after their escape from NK. They already knew many things ahead of time, such as SK TV for one thing.

It is felt that the Hanawon system is necessary to help the refugees adjust to their new surroundings. So it is best to slow down before coming to a conclusion about the Settlement Center. Others are still listening and trying to understand.

This blog post has many other details that this summary doesn’t cover. The following article reveals other aspects of life at the Settlement Center and will afford you other important details by the refugee speaking out.

On July 7th there will be a forum, North Korean refugees, Freedom Day. Two decades of Hanawon.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 06/15/2019

Leading up to a TNKR July 7th forum marking “Hanawon’s” 20th Anniversary, TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue Jr. asks North Korean refugees to express their various views about their Hanawon experiences. Those experiences are being featured in his current Korean Times column. The following article is part 3 of a series that has been published so far.

Hanawon, the Settlement Support Center is a re-education center for the NK refugees before they are introduced into South Korean society. Lessons learned at Hanawon are designed to teach the refugees what to expect once they arrive in South Korea and are released from the program, as well as how to deal with the many problems they will encounter. Everything in SK is a surprise to them after having escaped from an oppressed country. The center attempts to teach them basic skills such as opening a checking account or using an ATM machine.

In column part 1 and part 2 of the KT series, many various opinions of those who have received the training were shared and many of these were not favorable. The stories in part 3 express a more positive view.

One refugee in today’s column expresses what Hanawon meant to her before she was merged into her new country. She states “Hanawon was so good.” She feels she learned so many new things. In her reporting she relays the message that she was “shocked” about all she was taught about SK. She learned what life was really like there and will never forget it. It was like “being in a movie.”

It is difficult to adjust after leaving Hanawon. At first one of the refugees was depressed because he didn’t have friends and questioned his mother, once they were reunited, on why she even brought him to SK. However, he appreciated the help he received from SK because it is a “freedom” country and his is new home.

Not all systems are perfect, and perhaps the Settlement Center could improve their methods of integrating the refugees into the SK society. However most every system must perfect their organization. And Hanawon is no exception.

 

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 06/08/2019 

Part 2 of Casey Lartigue Jr.’s blog post in the Korean Times, continues to give discussions of how North Korean refugees feel about their Hanawon experiences at the Settlement Support Center for refugees as told by them in the post. 

Two refugees offered their views about what time spent there was like when they passed through the system. One of the reasons for Hanawon’s existence, is to help NK refugees adjust to the lives they will face once they are free and sent out to be on their own in South Korean society.

I would say after reading the post, that Hanawon leaves much to be desired on how they operate their system at the present time.

One NK refugee offering an opinion in Part 1 of the blog, just wanted to “get out.” Part of her complaint was the emphasis placed on the “environment” when all she could think of was, “how we would survive after we were released from Hanawon.” She realized they “certainly tried to have an organized and professional program”, but it appears to me from what I read, that Hanawon has fallen short of its intended goal to help the refugees adjust. She feels that the Hanawon process was not perfect, but for some it could be useful.

It sounds like, from what I read, that Hanawon has issues, but, I hope it will resolve them and continue to improve the lives of these brave individuals.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 06/05/2019 

Yes it is true! He has done it again!

Casey Lartigue Jr., co-founder of TNKR, has been the winner of many prestigious awards. I will name just a couple through his years of dedicated, hmantarian service. There have been too many awards to mention them all in just one post.

In 2017 he was awarded the the ‘Social Contribution” Prize from the Hansarang Rural Culture Foundation, the winner of the Global Award from Challenge Korea in 2018.

Now he has been announced the recipient of the 2019 “Challenge Maker” award from the Challenge Korea organization. How much more can one man do than to offer his dedicated services free to others as a volunteer.

Lartigue is a man to be respected and admired for his many accomplishments. As the co-founder of the all-volunteer organization in Seoul, Korea that teach North Korean refugees English, he helps the NK refugees to succeed in South Korean society by teaching them English. He gives his all to his mission every day of his life. He has passion and that passion is just part of who he is.  Now he has just added another award to his long list of honors.

An honor to an honorable man.

To read Casey Lartigue Jr.’s blog of the event, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 06/02/2019 

As an outsider looking in, I thought I was familiar with “Hanawon”, but I didn’t know the half of it until I read Casey Lartigue Jr.’s column published in the Korea Times.

“Hanawon” is a Settlement Support Center in South Korea, that 32,000 North Korean refugees have passed through over the past two decades now, before being introduced to South Korean society. From the little I have read about the Support Center, I was surprised I missed some of the many problems the refugees encounter there.

One refugee states in detail in the KT article, the negative side of the “Hanawon” system and its deficiencies.

One of the refugees says that her time in Hanawon “punches NK refugees in the face” when they first arrive. She felt there should be a “transition period” prior to entering the program.

The male NK refugee discussed his feelings in the column, says he doesn’t remember much about Hanawon. He “wasn’t focused on thinking about anything other than when will I be able to get out.” He feels the process isn’t well organized. He alludes to learning to open a bank account when he got to Hanawon, but after he got out he had to learn it again. In other words, many things taught he had to “relearn once he got out.”

I didn’t read many positives about the Hanawon system. But by all means, read the article and judge for yourself. There are many other details I failed to mention in this post.

In one final comment… it seems apparent that Hanawon needs to get its “act together.”

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 05/30/2019 

“Are you listening” is the question asked by Casey Lartigue Jr. in 2012. He says he wasn’t listening then.

In his most recent colum in the Korea Times, he alludes to the inspiration he gained from his participation in the 16th North Korean Freedom Week when he was in Washington D.C. on his speech tour in the USA in April. He reflected on the theme, Listen to the NK Defectors.

Are you a good listener? I ask myself that question everyday. I listen with my heart on fb, to the many heartbreaking stories written in posts, articles and that I listen to in YouTube videos and TEDx speeches given by the NK refugees about the hardships they endured under the dictatorship of the Kim regime. We should all listen with our hearts as we converse with our friends and relatives in person not just in typed text messages. It isn’t the kind of listening I knew back then.

The co-founder of TNKR, Casey Lartigue, states he “realizes that there are many caring people who say they want to help but don’t.”. He says they do more talking than listening, Lartigue writes in his following KT column.

Just yesterday, one of my personal friends stated in a fb comment. I quote his answer to this question about caring. “Learning to listen, especially when you want to help is not easy because we think we know what people want and need.”

Director Lartigue found that with his TNKR organization, the organisation enable North Korean refugees to learn English and find their own way in South Korean society. He and co-founder Eunkoo Lee always listen to their needs, then try to comply. They are two very loving, dedicated, individuals who not only listen and learn, but care.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 05/28/2019 

Quotes made by Casey Lartigue Jr. and Jihyun Park are from people who are “in the know” about the abuse inflicted on the North Korean people under the notorious and brutal NK Kim Dictatorship that exists today without ceasing. When will it ever stop?

Jihyun Park is a NK refugee whose life was one of humiliation and suffering until she finally was able to bravely work her way to freedom from North Korea. She is telling her story as it is quoted in the following article shared on FB. Before her escape she was trafficked into China, she was repatriated twice. Thousands of women and girls are abducted into the sex trade in China and sold to men for marriage. Jihyun Park was a victim of such an incident. Her memories are grievous unto her. Mrs. Park now lives her life to the fullest with her loving family, as an activist for NK Human Rights for women. She now lives in the UK.

Casey Lartigue Jr., is the co-founder of the TNKR Global Education Center in Seoul, Korea. His all-volunteer NGO teach North Korean refugees English. With his help and the help of co-founder, Eunkoo Lee and their dedicated staff of tutors, they offer free English learning opportunities and support NK refugees in their efforts to obtain jobs, educational opportunities and provide lessons in speech giving. Learning English is essential in SK if refugees are to succeed in their endeavors.

Lartigue quotes the example of Yeonmi Park in his article, Yeonmi Park was a student in the TNKR English teaching program. She gave a speech in Dublin (Ireland),  that would break the hardest of hearts as she told of her life as she knew it before her escape to freedom. Her speech made her famous. Who helped her with her speech and the delivery of it? Director Lartigue, co-founder of TNKR, of course. Her best selling novel, “In Order To Live” gives details of her suffering and her subsequent experiences in China before she safely arrived in SK.

Lartigue who worked closely with Yeonmi Park when she was a student in his program, states in his quotes that she “hid the truth to me too.” Her book reveals her humiliation in detail. The price of a prostituted child is only a few dollars says Yeonmi Park. An amount was stated by her in her Dublin speech. “NK is unbelievable,” she said.

Lartigue “alluded that the statistics about the number of NK refugee women who have been sold into sex slavery is in fact, likely to be higher.”. Higher than is believed.

Jihyun Park asked the question. “In such an uncaring world, what can be done for my country women?” She continues and never gives up to fight for the rights of her people.

What role do I play to help the refugees? I spread awareness on social media of the human rights abuses in NK. I am the #1 cheerleader for TNKR. The refugees are of great importance to me as well as my continued friendship with Casey Lartigue and Jihyun Park. Their dedication to their cause is unbelievable in helping the refugees. Read the entire article for further details.

Casey Lartigue and Jihyun Park were quoted in this Italian outlet (in English) regarding the sex trafficking situation.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 05/20/2019 

Last week Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eunkoo Lee did 8 hours of interviews with North Korean refugees. There will continue to be a “burst of activity from TNKR in the coming months.”

On Sat. evening May 18th, a long awaited event was held at the TNKR office. TNKR co-founder, Lartigue, gave a presentation and a round table discussion of the Brown v Board of Education ruling “to mark the 65th Anniversary” that put an end to racial segregation in public schools in the United States. It was a landmark decision by the US. Supreme Court that established racial segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. It was an important day in American history. 

Director Lartigue was delighted to speak longer than usual. He spoke about context of Brown and why “it was so important” then mentioned some lessons learned.

Standing beside the co-founder in the photo is lovely Jennifer Bowman, a dedicated TNKR volunteer that is a constant supporter of the all-volunteer organization that teaches NK refugees English. She is holding the book Lartigue co-edited when he was an Education Program Analyst with the Cato Institute in Washington. The book’s title is: “Educational Freedom In Urban America Brown v Board after Half a Century”. He and a coalition helped to develop the School Choice Program there. He was also the organizer of a Brown v Board Conference and was a speaker at that 50th Anniversary of the ruling.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Brown case, I will give you a brief history with a few details.

The young black girl in the photo, is Linda Carol Brown. She was a school girl of 8 in 1954 in segregated Topeka, Kansas where she sought to enroll in an all-white school. She was refused the enrollment. At the time, Linda was attending an all-black school. To get to school each morning she had to walk across a busy street often in cold weather then take a school bus from there. Her school was 21 blocks away. The all-white school was only seven blocks away.

She became the center of the U.S. civil rights case, Brown v Board when her father sued the Board of Education. It was a unanimous decision to abolish segregation in public schools in America.

By the time the case was decided in 1954, Linda was in junior high school. She later attended Washburn & Kansas State University.

God Bless America is all I can say.

 

To read Casey Lartigue Jr.’s blog of the event, click on either of the images below.

Eben Appleton – 04/24/2019 

The following VOA (Voice of America) article titled: Providing English Education to North Korean Refugees, was written by Jang Yang-hee and translated into English by TNKR’s own Youngmin Kwon.

In this published article, the writer reports that Casey Lartigue Jr., co-founder of TNKR, a Seoul based all-volunteer NGO that teaches North Korean refugees English, is currently on a nation-wide speech tour in the United States. He has given close to a dozen speeches at many distinguished Universities along the way. In this particular speech he is addressing the students at American University in Washington, DC. on April 11th.

Lartigue’s mission as he says, is to raise awareness and rally support for North Korean refugees, along with urging others to become involved in the US with his well known TNKR organization. The group relies totally on fundraising efforts to sustain the organization and continue their amazing Human Right’s endeavors through their English teaching methods and skills.

During his speech, he gave enthusiastic students who asked many questions, answers and detailed information during the Q&A period. Lartigue is an accomplished speaker with a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University and is a fine journalist as well.

First was the “pop” quiz, which I learned he gave when he delivered several speeches with me in TN. He spent a great deal of time preparing powerpoints for all situations he might be addressing during his tour. I experienced one of these “pop quizzes” when he was here. One such quiz was, “Can you give me the name of my first power point shown in my speech presentations?” “I don’t know” was the answer I gave. He then announced it was the one showing he was on NK dictator, Kim Jong-un’s, “hit list.” How could I have forgotten? It was so funny, but I did.

The questions asked and answers given by the students in the American University academic setting to Director Lartigue’s, “pop quiz” were all good questions and answers he announced, but “it goes much deeper than that.” One of the statements he gave was that so many people focus on NK, rather than on the NK people. It seems “there remains very little interest beyond international security issues and neuclear weapons” he said.

There is no question that TNKR is making a positive difference in the lives of so many NK refugees to help them succeed in South Korea. “The proof is in the pudding.” You can make a difference too by offering your assistance to TNKR from the USA.

To read the full translated article on Casey Lartigue Jr.’s Blog, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 04/07/2019 

Sunday afternoon. Time to say goodbye to the co-founder of TNKR, Casey Lartigue Jr. The only one in the family who wondered what he was doing in our house, was our Siamese cat, Taboo, who is staring at him from the back of the sofa.

The one-on-one time we spent together reviewing the Frederick Douglass book is a memory we will always cherish. He spent time helping me with computer functions, making it easier to get to TNKR activities, his Korea Times articles, etc. more quickly. He was patient and kind. 

All in all, the entire trip Director Lartigue made on his speech tour to TN is one Charlie Appleton and Eben Appleton will remember forever.

Gone, but never forgotten is the “man who makes invisible people visible”. Casey from TNKR that teaches North Korean refugees English.

Eben Appleton – 03/24/2019 

Several North Korean refugees speak out in Casey Lartigue Jr.’s column in the Korea Times, about the uncomfortable questions they are asked by others once they reach South Korea. One NK refugee seems to feel there is a “check list of items” people ask. It makes refugees new to SK society feel uncomfortable.

One of the refugee’s speaking out about the problem says it is “like going to a birthday party and someone starts asking about being tortured” or to explain other forms of misery endured when they were slaves to the NK regime.

Refugees say they are trying to start a “good life” without being asked prying questions, such as “did anything happen bad to my family?”

One refugee wishes others would “get to know them as individuals” and not bombard them with questions about “nuclear bombs and the dictator.” The worst thing of all, is it felt as though people judged them on where they come from and not who they are.

Refugees seem to understand why people are curious about NK, but all too often the news media wants South Koreans to have sympathy for North Koreans, with their main goal being to make the NK people look pathetic, just because they “were born in a country with a terrible government.” However the refugees say, this doesn’t mean that “there is anything wrong with the people.”

All in all, what those expressing their opinions in the Times article seem to be saying about the ongoing curiosity regarding the place of their birth, is: please “don’t ask me anymore questions about NK.” They get tired of hearing about it. Now they are gone and hope to never go back until peace reunites the peninsula.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 02/19/2019 

Have you ever wondered what motivates a man like Casey Lartigue, Jr. to take action? The following article outlines the reasons why.

Casey Lartigue Jr., in a Valentine’s Day tribute to Frederick Douglass, a 19th century slave turned abolitionist, tells the story of why Lartigue’s passion for liberty was inspired by this Civil War legend and thus published in his Korea Times column.

Frederick Douglass had fond memories of his mother calling him her “little Valentine” when he was just a small boy, and although he wasn’t certain of the day he was born, he decided to make Valentine’s Day the day of his birth. Douglass had a passion for freedom. He then escaped to freedom and did so much more.

Lartigue’s column reveals why Douglass inspired a passion in him to “use your skills to make a difference,” taking action for a cause you believe in is his good advice.

This man of action left a dream job in Washington DC as an Education Policy Analyst at the Cato Institue, where he and a coalition helped develop the School Choice Program. The program allows parents of underprivileged children to have a choice of schools for their children, offering them better opportunities to succeed. He took action and was making a difference there.

In Seoul, Korea as Co-founder of TNKR that teaches North Korean refugees English, Douglass continues to inspire him with the passion he instilled in him from the time he was a boy of twelve, having read three of Douglass’ autobiographies.

Casey Lartigue is an aboltionist in his own way as he passes along Douglass’ legacy to North Korean refugees, by helping them to find their own way through offering them freedom to make choices and by teaching them English in hopes of opening doors for them to succeed in South Korean society. Having escaped from a land where they had been slaves to a brutal Dictator, Kim Jong-un, and like Frederick Douglass were enslaved as personal property. North Koreans are still being held captive and are slaves to the Kim regime to this day.

To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 02/10/2019 

When your new life of freedom is before you, and you reflect back to the past, some days were happy and some days were sad.

This is the story you will be hearing from the TEDx speech delivered in English from a North Korean refugee named Eunhee Park. She is telling an audience whose lives may not have been as bad, about the life of a North Korean woman as she remembers it under the evil and brutal Kim regime.

Although you may not think it is important to “view,” “like,” “comment” and “share” this YouTube video, Miss Park will be happy to assure you that it means the world to her. Why?… She will be telling a broader audience about the nightmare she endured. She hopes she will be helping her people back home in NK to learn what freedom is all about, now that she has escaped to South, Korea. This is the message she wishes to convey to those she left behind.

At the present time there have been 3,700 views of her TEDx, but it takes a substantially greater number for this speech to be considered to be viewed on the TEDx website. Please take a few moments after viewing. I believe you will want to comply.

Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eunkoo Lee are the co-founders of TNKR, that teach NK refugees English in Seoul, Korea. Eunhee Park is a student learning English in the TNKR program.

To watch the full video of Eunhee Park talking about her experience as a North Korean Woman, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 01/18/2019 

Kim Jong-un has been telling the world and President Donald Trump how much he loves his people. Eunhee Park tells a different story in her TEDx speech delivered to an audience who is interested in learning more about North Korea, along with the truth about life in NK and how the NK dictator treats his citizens.

The TNKR organization was co-founded by Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eunkoo Lee in 2013. It offers freedom of choice and opportunity to NK refugees such as Eunhee, by teaching them English free of charge. One of the opportunities provided by the TNKR all-volunteer English teaching tutors and coaches, is to help refugees deliver speeches, such as the one you are about to witness. Allowing them to tell their own stories and raise awareness of the human rights abuses inflicted on innocent victims.

The following TEDx speech given by this incredible young refugee, is an example of the opportunity TNKR has provided in order for young women and men to tell their stories to the world, in fluent English.

Many fb “likes” would be greatly appreciated in order for this TEDx speech to be included with other fine speeches availabe to a worldwide audience on the TEDx website.

To watch the full video of Eunhee Park talking about her experience as a North Korean Woman, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 11/06/2018 

Here is to a man who makes invisible people visible. Casey Lartigue Jr. co-founder of TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees), feels “we all have skills we can use to make the world a better place.” He has chosen to make a difference by doing just that.

He believes in empowering North Korean refugees. Working with his Co-founder, Eunkoo Lee, they teach North Korean refugees English through their Seoul-based volunteer teaching program. Due to the TNKR program, the refugees have many opportunities to find their own way in South Korea.

The co-founder further states in his recent Korea Times column, that he attempts to be his “own spokesman.” He quotes Mark Twain, to say “I can live for two months on a good compliment but I never speak for anyone else but myself.” Lartigue further states that when it comes to the NK refugees he gives them space and furnishes a safe haven when they choose to share their own stories of life in NK. This way they feel free to express themselves without interference from those who seek to exploit them, such as many reporters, the audience and researchers when they attempt to delve into the refugees private lives.

When writing his Korea Times blog posts the Columnist is careful to ask permission before sharing sensitive information such as a refugee’s private thoughts. Director Lartigue says the TNKR approach to the refugees is to allow them to choose their own topics and tutors when giving a public speech. Lartigue concludes, he never attempts to be a spokesman just an assistant for refugees.

One admirer gave him a great compliment by saying “he is a man who makes invisible people visible.” She further says he listens to people, finds out what they need, and tries to find others to help the refugee’s voices to be heard. The Texas native says he is an “advocate for educational freedom and speaks only for himself and not others.” He chooses to become invisible so others can speak out. This is an admirable trait of a remarkable man.

 To read the full article, click on the image below.

Eben Appleton – 10/24/2017 

In reading Casey Lartigue Jr.’s latest Korea Times column, “Even the translator cried”, he spoke of last Friday at a Global Leadership Forum organised by TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees). Refugees spoke before 300 US military members from the 6th Battalion 52nd Regiment in South Korea. 

Of the four NK Refugees telling their emotional stories of life under the oppressive Kim regime, one refugee began to cry. The audience of tough American soldiers were obviously moved. Lartigue was there as usual with a tissue in hand. I too began to cry as I read about the speech delivered to the troops by TNKR Special Ambassador, Ken Eom.

Ken, a FB friend of mine, who spent a decade as a NK soldier, spoke to the audience for the third time. He spoke of how, through NK propaganda, he was taught to hate and kill American soldiers on sight. Now, he had “met the enemy”, and the enemy was, in fact, a friend. My heart went to him as he talked about the troop’s kindness to him. 

Ken recently shared his wedding album to his many FB friends. He is now celebrating his new life of freedom and love with his precious bride, Ljeong Son. His past like in NK must now seem like a bad dream he has awakened from, after crossing over from darkness to light. 

To read the full article, click on the image below.