Tag Archives: volunteers

Only looking forward?

“In front of the office of the NGO stood a traditional ‘hanok’ house which caved in just a few days before I took this picture.”

By Maaike van Nus

“My initial expectation before meeting them was that they would be more, ehm, that they wouldn’t be as assimilated as they are, I mean it’s a good thing that they are, but it seems they all have cell phones, and they all have grown fairly accustomed to the life here”

This was told to me in an interview with one of my informants about the North Korean refugees he’d just met. For my master in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VU I conducted three months of fieldwork in Seoul, South Korea. I worked with an NGO that provides North Korean refugees with free English lessons by matching them with volunteers who speak fluent English. My research revolves around these volunteers. North Korea has always been a great interest and concern of mine, as well as the resettlement of North Korean refugees once they have escaped their homeland through China, and thus I decided to focus my research on volunteers who help them in this resettlement process.

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