TNKR’s mission is to empower North Korean refugees to find their own voice and path through education, advocacy, and support. Our core values include access to education opportunities for refugees, a positive experience for volunteers, practicality and authenticity of action.
TNKR was founded in 2013 by co-directors Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eunkoo Lee. Both had prior experience working for other humanitarian causes, and both were deeply interested in the plight of North Korean refugees living in South Korea. They saw the obstacles that the refugees faced and recognized their need for support.
The organization's programming is built around a student-centered learning model, one that emphasizes student choice and self-accountability. By allowing the refugees to choose their own tutors, coaches and mentors, we have found they are more motivated to study, less likely to give up when the lessons get difficult, and to be partnered with the language helpers whose teaching style best suits them.
TNKR is a nonprofit organization that aims to assist North Korean refugees in preparing for their future and transitioning to life outside of North Korea by providing them with free English learning opportunities.
Prominent students who have studied in the program include:
Yeonmi Park, author of "In Order to Live."
Eunsun Kim, author of "A Thousand Miles to Freedom."
Sungju Lee, author of "Every Falling Star."
Other emerging speakers include:
Eunhee Park, who spoke about "The Lives of North Korean Women" at a TEDx Talk in Seoul in December 2018
Cherie Yang, who spoke about "My Arduous Journey for Freedom, Family and the Future" at a TEDx Talk in the U.K., in October 2017.
Ken Eom, who has spoken at Princeton and Harvard Universities.
Yuna Jung, who has spoken at Harvard University and KOTESOL conferences.