Travel Guide

Volunteer Opportunities for Expats & Foreigners Living in South Korea

Jonathan
February 28, 2024

Whether you’re new to Korea or have been living here for a while, volunteering is a fantastic way to integrate into the community, improve your Korean language skills, and even add points towards your long-term and permanent residency status.

I. Why Volunteer in South Korea?

Volunteering in Korea isn’t just about giving back; it's also about enriching your own life. Here’s why you should consider it:

  • Cultural Integration: Immersing yourself in volunteer activities can deepen your understanding of Korean culture and help you make meaningful connections with locals.
  • Language Improvement: Regular interaction with Koreans can significantly boost your language skills.
  • Residency Points: For those looking to extend their stay, certain volunteer activities can contribute to your residency points.


II. Teaching English Volunteering

One of the most popular ways for expats to volunteer in Korea is by teaching English. This not only provides valuable skills to learners but also opens up new worlds for both students and teachers.

  • North Korean Refugees: A unique and impactful volunteering opportunity is teaching English to North Korean refugees, assisting them in adjusting to their new lives in the South. Organizations like the Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights are always looking for volunteers to assist with advocacy campaigns, youth programs, and education programs for North Korean refugees.
  • Rural Education: Many rural communities in Korea have limited access to native English speakers. Volunteering your time to teach in these areas can make a big difference. Sites like workaway.info offer several opportunities to volunteer in rural communities in South Korea.

III. Community Development and Social Work

If you’re interested in more direct community involvement, there are numerous ways to engage in social work and community development.

  • Orphanages and Children’s Homes: Spend time with children who lack family support. Your involvement can brighten their day and contribute positively to their development. Suwon's Program Reach and Seoul's Angel House are great places to start.
  • Homeless Shelters and Services: By assisting in shelters, you can help provide meals, skills training, and basic care to those in need. Mannasem's Seoul Homeless Shelter and PLUR are two organizations that welcome volunteers.
  • Elderly Care: In a country with a rapidly aging population, elderly care volunteers are invaluable. Activities can range from simple companionship to assisting with daily tasks. The Korea Sharing Federation is a great place to start.

IV. Animal Rescue and Shelters

Another way for expats to give back to their communities is to help their furry companions.

Animal Shelters: Shelters from Seoul to Busan are consistently looking for more help walking dogs, cleaning cages, and advocating for adoption. For those without the means to adopt or volunteer, consider donating to any of the following projects.

  • Red Collar Rescue rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes dogs in need while advocating for animal welfare in the community.
  • Yongin Pound Adoption Page (YPAP) in Gyeonggi-do helps dogs find forever homes, with programs for sponsoring and fostering pets--they even arrange international adoptions for those living outside of Korea.
  • Reach out to Rebel Rescue to support animals nationwide--apply to be a volunteer and join a dedicated team helping animals in South Korea. Rebel Rescue even offers extra flexibility for USFK members.

V. Environmental Conservation and Sustainability

For those passionate about the environment, Korea offers several avenues to contribute to conservation and sustainability efforts.

  • Beach and River Clean-Ups: Korea’s beautiful coastlines and waterways often require maintenance to stay clean. Participating in clean-up drives is a way to contribute to environmental preservation. George Mason University Korea organizes such events yearly, so be on the lookout. The next event is scheduled for April 14th, 2024.
  • Reforestation Projects: Join initiatives aimed at planting trees and restoring forests. The Korea Forest Service is involved in these projects.
  • Sustainability Programs: Help promote recycling and sustainable living practices through various programs across Korea. WWOOF Korea is a good resource for finding these opportunities.


VI. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I find volunteer opportunities in Korea?

Start by connecting with the expat community online and visit Volunteer Korea for a comprehensive list of volunteering opportunities.

Do I need to speak Korean to volunteer?

While not always necessary, knowing some Korean can enhance your volunteering experience and allow for deeper connections with the community.

Can volunteering affect my visa status?

Yes, certain types of volunteering activities can earn you points towards residency applications in Korea. Keep in mind that participating in political demonstrations is not considered a form of volunteering, and participating in unsanctioned political protests can negatively impact your visa status.

Where can I submit my volunteering activity for visa points?

You can log your volunteer activity by submitting your Certificate of Volunteering at the 1365 website's volunteer portal.

Volunteering in Korea is a rewarding way to give back, learn more about the country, and meet new people. Whether your interest lies in education, community service, or environmental conservation, there’s a place for you to make a difference. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the organizations mentioned, and embark on a fulfilling journey of volunteering in Korea.

Remember, every small action counts, and your contribution can lead to significant positive changes in the community and in your own life. Let’s make a difference together!

Cover photo source: Brian Yurasits (Unsplash)


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