Our History

FSI, first known as Teach North Korean Refugees (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.

Casey, then the Director for International Relations at the Freedom Factory Co. Ltd., and Eunkoo, then a government researcher with a focus on young North Korean refugees in South Korea, met at a human rights conference in the fall of 2012.

What started as a simple exchange of ideas later turned into serious talk about implementing them, and in March of 2013 Casey and Eunkoo hosted their first “English Matching Session,” in which they paired a small group of volunteer English tutors with North Korean refugees. They quit their jobs to focus on building FSI’s capacity to empower North Korean refugees.


FSI speaker Songmi Han was a featured speaker at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

7 FSI speakers gave speeches to governement agencies and civil organizations in Washington D.C

FSI Video Exhibition in New York City featured testimonies of 8 North Korean refugees in FSI.


Became incorporated in South Korea, registered by the Ministry of Unification

Published 2 North Korean refugee memoirs: Greenlight to Freedom/ My Father`s North Korea Story

FSI co-founder Casey Lartigue was awarded Seoul Honorary Citizenship.


Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) is renamed as Freedom Speakers International (FSI)

FSI hosts 12th Youth English Speech Contest

FSI 13th English Speech Contest


FSI hosts 11th English Speech Contest

100th Language Matching session is held

FSI re-locates the office to Sansung-dong


FSI hosts Ivy League Unification Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Track 3, focusing on Career Development, launches.


FSI registers as a 501(c)3 non-profit in the USA.

FSI holds its 10th English Speech Contest.


FSI student Cherie Yang delivers TEDx Talk in the U.K.

FSI is approved by the South Korean tax office as an official donor recipient organization.

FSI co-founders Casey Lartigue and Eunkoo Lee deliver TEDx


Eunsun Kim, author of A Thousand Miles to Freedom, wins FSI’s 3rd English speech contest.

FSI co-hosts International Volunteer Workshop at the National Assembly.

International Workshop.

FSI registers as a non-profit organization in Seoul.

FSI is renamed the Teach North Korean Refugees Global Education Center.

FSI moves into its own office, near Gwangheungchang Station

FSI profiled by TVN's "Little Big Heroes" in a 49-minute special.


FSI hosts 1st English Speech Contest. Sungju Lee, later author of Every Falling Star, wins the first contest.

FSI student Yeonmi Park publishes In Order to Live.


Casey Lartigue Jr, FSI co-founder delivers a speech and moderates Chanyang's session.

FSI co-founder Casey Lartigue and FSI student Yeonmi Park launch "The Casey Lartigue Show with Yeonmi Park.“

FSI student Yeonmi Park delivers emotional speech at One Young World that has now been viewed more than 80 million times.

FSI is split in half, Track 1 Flexible Tutoring, Track 2 Public Speaking.


"North Korean refugee teachers project" holds its first English Matching session at a TOZ center near Bangbae Station

The group's activities are renamed as English Matching

Renamed as Teach North Korean Refugees Project

FSI becomes a project at Freedom Factory Co., Ltd.

FSI student Chanyang Ju delivers the keynote ess at the Asia Liberty Forum