Let’s meet at the National Assembly on March 20! The largest gathering of volunteers coming together to find ways to help North Korean refugees.

I conceived workshops as to-be-continued conversations. Last Monday we started one and I committed myself to keep it alive.

Here I am to talk you about a new chance to have a deeper understanding about North Korea, North Korean refugees and to learn about opportunities for you to get directly involved.

Please, join Teach North Korean Refugees, Justice for North Korea and Transitional Justice Working Group for the largest gathering of volunteers coming together to find ways to help North Koreans and North Korean refugees.

This event is scheduled for March 20 at the National Assembly of South Korea, from 1 to 6 PM. Here you will find the step by step directions to the 3/20 International Volunteers Workshop

Casey Lartigue is leading this interesting workshop. Do not miss it!

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From 1-6 PM

Casey Lartigue:

“If you have been thinking about getting involved with helping North Korean refugees then here’s your chance. After this workshop is over, you will have a deeper understanding about North Korea, North Korean refugees and to learn about opportunities for you to get directly involved.

* Andrei Lankov, author of The Real North Korea, has confirmed he will deliver the keynote address. This will be a great chance to hear from and talk with someone who has been studying about North Korea for almost three decades.

* We also have two North Korean refugees scheduled to speak at the workshop. One of them was the winner of the third English speech contest hosted by TNKR.

* You will also get to hear directly from representatives of several NGOs actively involved with helping North Korean refugees in Seoul and other places around the world.

You can reserve a space here and the updates will post them here“.

I will be there too!

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Thanks for Being an Ally! Look at what you’ve accomplished for North Korean Refugees.

On Monday, February 29th, we celebrated our latest women lab talk in Hillside Residence:

Far From Heaven. The Unspeakable Lives of North Korean Refugees.

Far From Heaven Banner February 29th

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Introducing the workshop and testing the energy level! We started with some great energy but I saw it increased!

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Kris Moon speaking.

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Casey Lartigue speaking.

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Yeongnam Eom or Ken, as he likes to be called, speaking.

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Rachel Stine speaking.

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The whole panel answering people’s questions.

We were more than 44 people and started a fruitful conversation about North Korea, North Korean Refugees and how we could help them to find their way and make them more powerful.

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From right to left, Mallory Gleizer, Casey Lartigue, Kris Moon and me.

Moved by solidarity, we met, we learned, we ate (Spanish Food!) and we shared. 

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I made three Spanish Tortillas for this special occasion. I made Gazpacho too.

We shared indeed and look at what you’ve accomplished for North Korean Refugees: 1,000,000 Won has been raised!!

You did it! You did it and the credit for it all belongs to you! (You did it, “My Fair Lady”, by  Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe).

We truly could not have accomplished it without your active support. 

I have already transferred all your donations and I am sure they will make a huge impact.

THANK YOU. 

A 500,000 Won donation went to Rachel Stine (Helping Hands Korea). They will use it for refugee rescues.

A 500,000 Won donation went to Teach North Korean Refugees. They will give 100,000 Won to Ken and 400,000 Won will help refugees with resettlement and language classes.

I would like to finish this entry by mentioning Casey Lartigue‘s lovely words which make the perfect colophon:

“Yesterday I spoke at a fantastic event organized by Ana Dols. I met her on Feb 2 when I was a featured speaker at an event introducing (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees to the American Women’s Club.

I said then during Q&A: I hope this will be a movement rather than a moment. At the end of the event, Ana told me that she wanted to invite me to speak at an event.

27 days later, I was speaking at a Women Lab Korea event. Ana is a newcomer to NK refugee issues, but she organized a really smart panel.

Sunghoon Kris Moon to give an overview about North Korea.
Ken Eom to discuss his own escape from North Korea and his adjustment.
Casey Lartigue to discuss the way (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees(now the North Korean Refugee Education Center at AOU) helps North Korean refugees improve themselves.
Rachel Stine to discuss rescuing North Koreans trying to escape to freedom.

I learned some things and also had some things I already knew shaken from the cobwebs in the archives of my mind. I have now given so many speeches that I am ready to get to Q&A to hear what people think. Of course many audiences want to talk about titillating stories about the leaders of the NK regime, I try to be patient, count to 10, remember there was a day I was in their shoes, then answer while trying to encourage them to think about something practical they can do.

It seemed that I had a connection with many people in the room. Sunghoon Kris Moon showed one of Yeonmi Park‘s speeches. Of course, Yeonmi was Ambassador of TNKR and we hosted a podcast together. And we discovered some personal connections.

Rachel Stine was one of the volunteer tutors back when I was the International Adviser to the Mulmangcho School.

Several of our current and past volunteers were at the session. Peter Daley is Mr. Reliable, coming to many of our events in addition to being a tutor and coach in our program. Renee Cummins remains one of our biggest cheerleaders. Eileen Chong has kind of snuck up on me, coming to many of our events, being a coach in our program, helping us with graphics.

Many others. But the woman of the hour was Ana Dols. I meet many people at events who say they want to organize an event. There is a lot of happy talk at events, with people saying they will do one thing or another, then when they leave the event, it seems they forget to do most of what they have said. But not Ana. She followed through, kept the speakers updated, then she got it done! Don’t call her a by-stander!”

 Once again, thank you!

Speakers For Freedom. Voices that enlightened us about North Koreans and North Korean Refugees.

On Monday, February 29th we undertook an unforgettable journey in Hillside Residence. A panel of both wise and generous speakers brought us to earth and helped us to understand what it means to live under the most repressive totalitarian regime today; how we can fight it and turn into North Korean Refugees Allies!

Far From Heaven Banner February 29th

These were our Guest Speakers

Far From Heaven Schedule Program February 29th

This was our Program.

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all these great speakers. Thank you, guys!

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From right to left: Kris Moon, Rachel Stine, Yeongnam Eom, Casey Lartigue and me!

Sunghoon Kris Moon

Sunghoon Kris Moon is a Korean American who has lived, educated and worked both in Korea and the US. She has been a North Korea watcher for almost twenty years ever since she first encountered the conditions of North Korean famine in 1997.

Since then she has been keeping her eyes on North Korea through working with various think tanks/non-profit organizations such as the Institute for Strategic Reconciliation, the United States Institute of Peace, and The Korea Society as well as studies focused on international relations surrounding North Korea and nation-building potentials for post-unification (when it finally happens!) with special interest in equitable urban and social development. She currently serves as Special Linguistic Consultant to Chang Joon Kim, former US Congressman and current advisor to the South Korean President Park Geun Hye on political economy issues.

Yeongnam Eom

Yeongnam Eom, or Ken as he likes to be called, escaped from North Korea in 2010 after serving ten years in the North Korean military. Upon completing his military service, he was unable to get a job because his family was missing, presumed defected. His ten years of loyalty was rewarded with unemployment and suspicion. Soon after defecting, Ken spent three years in Canada. He returned to South Korea in early 2014 and joined Teach North Korean Refugees soon after, later becoming Special Ambassador. Since then, Ken has been actively sharing his story and experiences through interviews, speeches, and presentations. He is now a Special Ambassador to the North Korean Refugee Education Center at American Orientalism University.

Casey Lartigue

Casey Lartigue, Jr., joined Atlas Network as a fellow in December 2013. He lives in South Korea, where he is the co-founder of Teach North Korean Refugees. In South Korea, he is also the director for international relations for the newly established Freedom Factory Co. Ltd., the international adviser to the Mulmangcho School (for adolescent North Korean refugees) in Yeoju, South Korea, and a columnist with the Korea Times. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association in Washington, D.C.

He was previously a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom in Washington, D.C., and hosted “The Casey Lartigue Show” on XM Radio 169 The Power. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Black Alliance for Educational Options and a former member of the Young Executive Network of the Washington Scholarship Fund. He is co-editor of the book Educational Freedom in Urban America. Lartigue received a bachelor’s degree from the Harvard University Extension School and a master’s degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Support TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees): http://teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org/support-tnkr-2/

More about Casey Lartigue and TNKR:  The interview and About TNKR

Rachel Stine

Rachel Stine is a nonprofit finance professional with seven years’ experience. In both New York and Seoul, she has managed large-scale budgets, trained canvassing teams, and written marketing content for nonprofit organizations.

In telefunding, she has spearheaded projects exceeding $100,000 USD. With past clients including the ACLU, Liberty in North Korea, and the Metropolitan Opera, she now works on the North Korean underground railroad system that transports refugees into free countries. Her long-term goal is to use her skills to advance human rights in North Korea.

 

North Korean Defectors and The Million Dollar Irish Potato

I feel overwhelmed by North Korean People’s suffering. I have so many questions about North Korea:

How does all this start? How are human rights in North Korea limited? How do North Koreans escape North Korea? Where do they go? Where do they hide? How does this harrowing journey to freedom pass? What are the North Korean Diaspora destinations? What happens to North Korean Defectors in China? What’s China’s strategy for North Korean Defectors? Who are the people helping to deliver North Koreans to safety? How well do North Korean Defectors integrate into South Korea? Which challenges do they face?

And here is the most important one: how can I help North Korean Defectors?

Last Thursday, I went to the Express Bus Terminal to buy a few stationary things for my next Workshop, Far From Heaven. The Unspeakable Lives of North Korean People. On my way to my favorite stationer’s shop, I crossed Shinsegae Department Store. All of a sudden everything seemed to me so surreal. Cleef and Arpels. La Prairie. Everything so clean. Everything so white. The perfect portrait of luxury. I had to stopped for a few seconds.

I remembered thinking: this world is so weird!

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Potato #345 (2010) by Kevin Abosch. A photo of an Irish potato taken by a world-famous visual artist has sold for more than $1 million.

In this very moment there are children being abused, there are people shot or massacred. Now, while I am standing right here, there is a woman being hit by her own boyfriend or husband. Right now there is a poll going on in the world asking people about how we should name “Planet 9”, Terminus, Fortuna, Solo? Right now there are people talking about new Barbie doll body shapes of petite, tall and curvy. There is a happy satisfied  business man in Europe enjoying his “Potato #345”, a photograph of a potato recently sold for more than 1 million dollars. In this precise instant there is someone overwhelmed by all this craziness and bullshit. Me.

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A look at Barbie’s new body types, including tall, curvy and petite. Photo: Barbie

North Korean Toys

Found on Pinterest.

It is not easy to deal with all this ordeal. So many people ( all these unbearable figures). So much pain indeed. What can we do? we asked ourselves. We suffer because we believe we cannot alleviate this evil. There is a sadness trace in our hearts although the day-to-day life might keep us busy enough to take all this suffering off our mind.

“What can we do? You know, What can we do?” But this feeling of helplessness is just a another limiting belief. Limiting beliefs constraint us in some way. They are only what we think though, there is no necessarily truth in them. How do we fight them?

There is only a way to fight a limiting belief: to exchange it by another more powerful and empowering one. Here we are that I believe that we can help North Korean People.

I have created Far From Heaven. The Unspeakable Lives of North Korean People because I truly believe in solidarity and there is always a chance to challenge the status quo. We can help North Korean Defectors to find freedom and let them master their own lives. If you come next February, 29th you will see it firsthand.

Far From Heaven Banner February 29th

Let me tell you what we have planned for next Monday, February 29th.

MEET LEARN EAT SHARE

Finally, I would like to underline the bi-dimensional approach of this workshop. First, the participatory approach.There is a great panel of speakers but somehow we will manage to hear your voice because we do need to hear you.

Secondly, the positive approach opposite a victim-oriented approach. We want to focus on how we can offer higher quality support to North Korean defectors – empowering more of them to create lasting change in their lives and communities around.

Get involved! Sign up here!

Let’s meet, learn, eat & share! check our Schedule Program.

How to improve your workshop experience, click here.

Daejanggeum and “the Impossible Country”

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Daejanggeum and “the Impossible Country”

Description: #WMLABTALKS event – inspirational thought-provoking lectures.

At womenlabkorea, we are inspired by remarkable women and women’s organizations, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight women’s lives and their role in South Korea.

We believe that one voice or one story can make a difference and that is why we are rallying female entrepreneurs, expat women, nonprofit founders, bloggers, and more to share their voice and insight.

This time our speaker will be Soohee Kim, a Korean entrepreneur and Korean Language teacher.

Inspired by the true story of Jang-Geum, -an apprentice cook that became the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty-, Ms Kim will tell us her own story of perseverance and her own vision of this fascinating country’s impressive achievements.

SOOHEE KIM INVITATION

Daejanggeum TV Series Original Picture.

All proceeds will be donated to programs supporting North Korean refugees and participants’ support will make an enormous and powerful impact.

Schedule: 10:00 AM-12:30 PM (includes breakfast & a light lunch)

SOOHEE KIM SCHEDULE PROGRAM

Venue: Hillside Residence

Registration: Ana Dols- 010 4119 7790- womenlabkorea@gmail.com

Next Thursday, December 3rd will talk too about Dae Jang Geum (Hangul: 대장금; hanja: 大長今 also known as Jewel in the Palace, a 2003 Korean television series directed by Lee Byung-hoon.

This epic South Korean drama tells the tale of an orphan cook who went on to become the king’s first female physician in a time when women held little influence in society.

It is based on the true story of Jang-geum, the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty. The main themes are her perseverance and the portrayal of traditional Korean culture, including Korean Royal Court cuisine and traditional medicine.

The theme song, Onara (Korean: 오나라) is in Old Korean. The song is in the pansori style, a particular type of Korean music that emerged during the Joseon Dynasty and was very popular in the 19th century.

It is a beautiful and catchy song…Listen to it and be captured by its rythm…We wait for you next Thursday…

We Are Korean Women and Hansan Sogokju.

We are Korean Women

On Thursday, May 7th we celebrated another #WMLABTALKS event, our inspirational thought-provoking lectures. WE ARE KOREAN WOMEN!

Along with Hye-Rim Kwon, a Korean journalist, we talked tête à tête about how Korean women view their past and face modernity.

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Hye Rim and her friends.

This was our plan for the day and sticked to it quite enough.

Our Schedule Program for the day.

The first thing was the coffee mingle and taste the traditional Spanish tapa pantumaca, a Catalonian breakfast or snack. People loved this simple but tasty Spanish dish.

You might be surprised by the name, “The Spanish FIKA” but there is a sentimental story behind. FIKA was our first #wmlabtalk and we liked very much this unique Swedish coffee break that we wanted to pay tribute to it by named it like that.

After we recharged our batteries it was time to get inspired…

We began our presentation. We talked about women, about Korean women and Korean Women’s greatest achievements. We talked about democracy, gender equality and the increase of women’s power in Korean society.

Important Korean Women

However we wanted not only to celebrate Korean Women’s achievements but to go just a little more further. More than spectators we wanted women to interact and discuss. We intended so to set a female-focused collective dialogue to break down stereotypes and go beyond clichés. It was difficult though, always is.

 

We thought that the only way to do it properly was through a “World Café” dynamic.

The World Café.

According to Wikipedia, the “World Café” is a structured conversational process that fosters an open and intimate discussion and link ideas within a larger group to get access to the “collective intelligence” in the room.

In World Café the focus is on exploring on themes and not on problem-solving and that was what we were after for: to enrich our perspective on Korean Women and give a certain basis for a further intimate reflection.

Small groups of six or seven participants sat around the tables and discussed open-ended questions for a structured amount of time. Individuals switched tables where a “table host” at the new table briefly welcomed people and filled them in on highlights of the earlier discussion.

In this way participants gather a wide range of inputs that help strengthen the ‘ecology’ of the conversation.

The world café session

These were our questions…

Korea has come so far in fifty years, how have women driven that growth?; What are the challenges that women face in Korean society?; What are the challenges that South Korean Women will face in the future?

I think that this World Café was able to deepen the discussion about being a woman in South Korea and maybe widen our viewpoints.

After the World Café, Hye-Rim Kwon taught us about the Sogokju, the Korean 1500 year old beverage and its legend around…

The story of Sogokju. “A long time ago, during the Joseon Dynasty a man who was on his way to Seoul to take a state exam , stopped at a tavern…”

After the storytelling we toasted with Sogokju and we could not find a better closure for our workshop than to read, both in Korean and in English, some excerpts of Simcheongjeon a story of Korean Pansori storytelling tradition.

Hye and I asked people to put on sleep masks… and then, with Simcheongjeon’s own words: we asked people to remove their masks and open their mind and their heart…

Simcheong is a girl whose mother died in childbirth. She cares for her blind father… She is the perfect model of Confucian devotion…We found interested to end with this story and use her “own” words to foster our imagination, forgetting about the story and focusing on the philosophical message.

 

 

 

The Grand Narrative

We are Korean Women WomenlabkoreaI’ve been asked to pass on the following:

*******WOMENLABKOREA is a creative space to test ideas, initiatives, and projects, a space to co-create, to co-design and prototype with other women, a supportive space where risks can be taken.

WOMENLABKOREA is about social innovation, empowerment and entrepreneurship!

The purpose is to help women step out of their comfort zones to improve their lives and the lives of women around them.

Next Thursday, May 7th we are hosting another #WMLABTALK called “We are Korean Women.”

We have conceived of these #WMLABTALKS as events where we can share and understand more about our lives; events to discover more about our wishes and hopes.

We wanted to create a space where women can speak freely and be ready to challenge stereotypes.

Furthermore, we wanted to dedicate a time to celebrate us, to celebrate women’s rhythms and women’s vision of…

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