Friday, March 16, 2012

Volunteer to Teach English to North Korean Defectors

Thanks to the raised awareness of the North Korean defectors issue, several ESL teachers in Korea emailed the Korean to ask for the ways that they can help.

The Korean asked around, and discovered some volunteer opportunities. For most North Korean defectors, one of the most difficult parts of adjusting to the South Korean society is South Korea's pervasive use of English.   Not only are English words liberally used in everyday conversation, English skill is essential to obtain a well-paying job in an export-oriented economy like South Korea. Most North Korean defectors have a difficult time adjusting to this, and require continuous tutoring in English to be fully functional as they live in South Korea.

If you are an ESL teacher in Korea, you can volunteer as an English tutor. There are several charter schools in Seoul specifically designed for North Korea defectors. Most notable among them is the Yeomyung School, whose graduates led the protest in front of the Chinese embassy in Seoul. You can volunteer at these schools as English tutors for those who escaped from North Korea.

If you are interested, email the Korean with your name and contact information. He will pass your information along to those schools through his contacts. The schools will reach out to you, and go from there. Thank you very much for your support.

-EDIT- Thank you for your support. As of December 2012, all the schools that the Korean knows of are completely full.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. There's also the Hana Center in southern Seoul (jordan.groh, gmail). The one I volunteer at up in Uijeongbu is called The Great Vision School and the guy to get in touch with is Danny Chung (neukorea, naver). They're also on Cyworld as simply TheGreatVisionSchool.

    I really urge readers here to get involved with tutoring DPRK refugees, it's a really rewarding experience. For me, it's been a refreshing change from my hagwon students.

  2. Is there anything like this in Daegu?

  3. Where is the location?

  4. This is mildy relevant to me.

    I teach English to a class of North Korean guys in the UK. Initially I found the lessons incredibly difficult, as they were extremely reluctant to say anything. I pretty much needed a crow bar to get them to talk.

  5. A great resource for info on the resettlement of North Korean defectors in South Korea (currently only available in Korean):

  6. Hi Korean! This article ( recently came out on the Guardian and paints a pretty harrowing account of what many North Korean defectors or political refugees may have faced. I do have a question for you, do you listen to 나는 꼼수다 and if so, what are your thoughts on it?

  7. Hey guys, there is also a terrific NGO named PSCORE who provide English tutoring to refugees from North Korea - of all ages. Register at their web site as a tutor volunteer and you'll be matched up with a student.

    Please note that Yeomyung is a Christian school, if that is of any relevance to you. I just have a personal preference for secular organisations.


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