North Korean refugees share journey with Osan Airmen

Ken Eom, a speaker from Teach North Korea Refugees, answers questions about his life in North Korea March 6, 2016, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The TNKR is a program to teach English and allow North Korea defectors to tell their story. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)

Ken Eom, a speaker from Teach North Korea Refugees, answers questions about his life in North Korea March 6, 2016, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The TNKR is a program to teach English and allow North Korea defectors to tell their story. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)

Speakers from Teach North Korea Refugees answer questions from escape of North Korea during an open forum March 6, 2016, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The TNKR is a program to teach English and allow North Korea defectors to tell their story. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)

Speakers from Teach North Korea Refugees answer questions from escape of North Korea during an open forum March 6, 2016, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The TNKR is a program to teach English and allow North Korea defectors to tell their story. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)

Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea --

Two North Korean defectors shared their story of coming to the Republic of Korea to a crowd of Osan Airmen during an open forum here March 6.

The two refugees, Ken Eom and Sehyek Oh, are members a program called “Teach North Korean Refugees,” which teaches English and other languages to refugees.

The program, managed by Casey Lartigue, also focuses on writing, public speaking and presenting, so that refuges can tell their story in their own words.

“The main thing we do is help the refugees find their way and to tell their stories,” said Lartigue.

The first speaker, Eom, shared his experiences of being in the North Korean army and how he escaped from the regime. He concluded his speech with his hopes for the Korean Peninsula to be someday united. 

“I strongly believe one day that Korea will be unified. When that day comes I would like to take you to my hometown to see my family and friends,” said Eom.

The second speaker, Oh, spoke about his experiences living in North Korea and defecting to the Republic of Korea.

The most compelling factor in his escape from North Korea was that he grew up living in poverty. He shared that there were times he went several days without food.

“I rather risk getting captured and being executed than to die from hunger,” said Oh during his account of his escape.

After both speakers presented their stories, they concluded the event with a Q&A session with Team Osan members in the audience.