Living all their life in a state which stops them from obtaining valuable information about the outside world, North Korean defectors lack knowledge in some domains compared to the people in South Korea. We organize education programs not only to teach North Korean defectors English but also to introduce other approaches which can help them gain control over their lives again.
Our 1:1 tutoring makes use of the extensive network of volunteer tutors and working professionals in Seoul and matches them with North Korean defectors seeking to develop their English language skills, math, and essay writing skills as well as their knowledge of cultural norms and practices around the world. Our program helps defectors adjust to the South Korean education system and enhances their abilities to communicate and convey their ideas in a range of situations, both interpersonal and workplace. As of 2016, PSCORE has worked with 868 education program participants since 2007.
Each tutor-defector pair negotiates goals on their own according to the individuals’ needs since defectors have different skill levels. Students and tutors usually meet in cafes or other public places twice a week in two-hour sessions. However, this can be adjusted depending on both the student’s and the tutor’s schedules and learning goals.
In the past, our English language classes took place on Wednesday evenings as an extension of our 1:1 mentoring program. These classes stopped due to the pandemic back in 2020. We provided education to our North Korean defectors, who would like to improve their English grammar, speaking, and pronunciation skills. English language textbooks were provided for free. The classes offered an alternative learning forum and gave defectors the ability to work collaboratively in a group environment by practicing their English language skills with a larger group of students and teachers. The weekly session also used to function as an intercultural communication class allowing students to explore different cultures around the world and how different groups communicate with each other.
PSCORE organizes excursions once a month for South Koreans, North Korean defectors and foreigners to meet and participate in cultural activities together. These excursions provide participants with the opportunity to interact in a social environment and experience the South Korean culture. Thus, it gives them the chance to make new friends and broaden their social network. These activities are fundamental for defectors as they promote better social skills among North Korean students by encouraging them to mingle with larger groups of people.