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2016-11-07 The Transformation of Eunkoo Lee!

I often like to ask people what they like to do in their free time. Many Korean students and office workers answer: "Sleeping."

In the case of TNKR co-founder Eunkoo Lee, she enjoyed sleeping on weekends, and watching baseball during the season.

All of that changed because of (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees. She now rarely has time to sleep all weekend, because we have TNKR events almost every weekend.

Early in TNKR's history, I fired Eunkoo for one day. I realized that our model would be very difficult to attract sustained financial support, we were trying to do something different without having a financial sponsor. How long and deep was her commitment to this? What if we never raise money? What if we can't ever count on others to help us long-term?

Yes, I later admitted to her, I had to test how much she really wanted to be part of this.

She had always been an office worker, had never started anything from scratch, and never had never been in a leadership position. There were a few times that she was ready give up.

When we talked about making this project more formal, she said that she could be the assistant director, I could be the main director. I disagreed, the program would not be strong if she faded into the background. She had to assert her authority, take leadership, and be an equal partner. She still hesitated--so I began dominating her, treating her like my personal assistant. Then I fired her.

She was outraged, insisting that I couldn't fire her. After that, she began asserting her authority. At last, she began to take a leadership role. In the past, she would disagree with me, like an assistant disagreeing with the boss. Now she disagrees, as a co-director.

* * *

Now she is in Mexico, at an international volunteer event. What is she coming back to?

* Saturday, Nov 12: TNKR orientation
* Sunday, Nov 13: How to Help North Koreans
* Saturday Nov 19: TNKR matching
* Sunday Nov 20: TBD
* Saturday, Dec 4, Bring My Father Home speech
* Saturday Dec 10, Bring My Father Home events
* Saturday Dec 11, Bring My Father Home events

Plus, we need to figure out when to have a Matching session in December. Eunkoo's weekend have been taken over by TNKR, so much so that her parents are worried about her future (as you may have seen, if you watched the tvN special!).

Before she helped start TNKR, Eunkoo rarely if ever volunteered, and certainly nothing in a sustained way. Now, she volunteers for TNKR during weekday evenings and weekends, rushing to TNKR for meetings from 7 pm after working at her main job from 9 am to 6 pm. We have even had some meetings where I have met with people near her office during her work hour.

The day may come that TNKR becomes sustainable so we can work together, rather than meeting around her work, leisure and baseball hours. Until then, TNKR will continue destroying her weekends.

* * *

Eunkoo writes from Mexico:

"I attended 8th Youth Volunteering conference in Mexico! I took Youth Korean deligation by the organisation that i am working as a job to the conference! I wanted to learn more volunteering..but also at the same time I should take care of young people!!^^

"Because of life changed a lot!!:) -Volunteering! Thank you TNKR! -especially Casey Lartigue Jr. !"

* * *

She said "thank you," but I know that sometimes she blames me for destroying her
weekends and blocking her from watching basetball.

She often talks about the impact that the many TNKR volunteers have had on her. Volunteering is now a natural part of her life, it seems that she has been doing it all along.

* * *

I used to tell Eunkoo, "I can do TNKR without you." She was outraged the first few times, until she realized I was whispering, "But it would be a disaster."

* * *

* TNKR events
* Support TNKR * TNKR media

Update: I later wrote this for the Korea Times, and for some reason, some of the local idiot expats accused me of attacking her, even though 1) she loved it 2) I showed it to her in advance as I do when I write about people.

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