Welcome to South Korea, the land of restaurant call bells, cat cafes, and ajumma pants. Seemingly underrated, Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, is the place to go for anyone looking to volunteer abroad. As it’s been rapidly improving, developing, and globalizing, Busan is a city that needs volunteers who are able to help out in a variety of areas. Full of sunshine, beaches, and fireworks, “Dynamic Busan” will literally brighten up your travel plans, and is perfect for anyone looking to experience a remarkable part of Asia while spending the evenings eating live octopus. Volunteer in Busan! Here’s how.
What you need to know about volunteering in Busan, South Korea
Busan wants volunteers who are dedicated in immersing themselves in Korean culture, helping locals, and desire to share their passions. Not only can you throw yourself into a cause that you care about, but you can explore a country that is entangled in proud Asian culture along with Western modernization.
Popular causes/projects in Busan. Volunteers interested in the tourist industry should check out Busan’s hostel and language cafes. In exchange for food, accommodation, and basic Korean lessons, volunteers can work for twenty hours a week. Teaching English to underprivileged and orphan children is another popular way to volunteer in Busan. Korea is very proud of their education standards and speaking English has a huge positive impact on their future. A third volunteer opportunity is to help develop the cultural markets with the locals in Busan.
Short term volunteer projects in Busan. Most volunteer programs are flexible about the duration of your project. Visitors can pop on over for a couple of weeks or up to three months without the hassle of a visa. Meaningful travel is always appreciated even if the stay is short. Luckily Busan has great public transportation so even if you’re on a time crunch, you can get a general feel of the Korean culture while volunteering abroad.
Long term volunteer projects in Busan. There are many advantages to volunteering abroad for a longer period of time. The language will become easier, the local market owner will be counting on your daily visits, and the community you are volunteering with will appreciate the sustainability that you are bringing to them. Not only that, but you will have time to explore Korea much more. The KTX train can get you to Seoul which is on the opposite side of the country in just over two hours. You can also take a ferry to Jeju Island, visit the historical Silla capital of Gyeongju, or fly to Japan for a quick weekend.
Life in Busan for international volunteers
After a day of volunteering you can head to Haeundae Beach to unwind. How many beaches have you lounged on that offer free WIFI and fireworks exploding left and right? Or escape the busy city and hop on a bus to either go for a hike or visit a Buddhist temple nearby.
Korea is fairly inexpensive compared to western countries. If you shop at the local markets and eat Korean street food, you will not have to stress over the cost. Furthermore, a one way bus ticket will be about $1.20 and a Korean meal is under $10. Hostels can be as low as $15 or you can pitch a tent on the beach for free.
The bright and colorful dancing city lights scream that the city is happy and well off, but it’s important to remember that the country itself only became independent in the middle of the twentieth century. There is still a drastic divide between rich and poor along with refugees escaping the north. South Korea has gone from one of the poorest to one of the wealthiest nations in the world since the 1960’s. Make sure to check out the Busan Modern History Museum to see how the country has evolved since the Korean War.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Learn to read and write. It may be surprising to hear, but the Korean alphabet is not as difficult as you may imagine. By learning to read and write you will learn that many Korean words are phonetically English and it will make a huge difference when you are ordering coffee, shopping for food, or looking up directions.
Busan is only about 200 miles from the border of North Korea, one of the most controversial places in the world. Make sure to take advantage of a DMZ tour to learn about the history of what caused the divide between the north and south.
Food! You will never go hungry in South Korea. Korean locals are going to make sure of that. In fact, best to bring your stretchy pants because you will be obsessing over the kimchi, pajeon, bulgogi, kimbap, and patbingsu. Once you discover what eating out in Korea is like, dining will never be the same again.
Be aware of cultural norms before heading to South Korea. The country highly respects their elders. Also, use your right hand to exchange money, bow when you greet a Korean, don’t speak loudly on a bus, and never write anyone’s name in red.
Be it jimjilbang, noraebang, PC bang, or sojubang, you are going to go out with a bang in Busan. You will have no trouble keeping yourself busy. In fact, it is important to remember to relax every now and then and just soak up the scenes around you. The volunteer project that you choose to partake in will leave a great impact on a city that truly values education, modernization, and new ideas. Volunteering abroad in Busan will take a piece of your heart as you embark on giving back to a city that is optimistic about what the future brings.
If you’re ready to volunteer abroad in Busan all while indulging on your daily diet of kimchi, read our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in South Korea.