Great post Caroline! I just wanted to add that there are also a lot of opportunities to get involved with orphanages in Busan. Whether you would like to teach English weekly or biweekly, or play games and do arts and crafts on the occasional Saturday, there are plenty of ways to get involved. For more information, check out and friend the Busan Volunteers Facebook page or email me, Ethan, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bored in Busan? Some opportunities and events you may not know about...
**Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with or involved in the running of any of the groups mentioned, I am merely a member of one or two and would like to try and get the word out. Please direct any queries about the events to the Facebook pages listed below.**
For one reason or another foreigners in Korea don’t always seem to get the best press, which is a shame because by and large we’re a pretty awesome bunch.
I know, I know, naive waygook here, I’m bound to be biased, I haven’t been here long enough to make an informed decision and blah blah blah. Whatevs, even if I am biased you can’t deny the huge amount of good work done by foreigners in the Busan community that doesn’t get the support and recognition it deserves. Obviously nobody’s looking for a round of applause and a pat on the back, but most of the groups are looking for new members...
For foreigners fresh off the plane, it’s sometimes difficult to know what you can get involved in. Sure you can join a Facebook page for your local area (or you can start one), but more often than not these will focus on local social events and living advice rather than suggestions of specific events to get involved in. Obviously the best thing you can do is to trawl Facebook and Busan-focused websites for specific groups to join, but that really only works if (unlike U2‘s Bono) you already know what you’re looking for. During my first few months in Korea I felt as if there was a whole world of stuff I was missing out on, purely because I didn’t know where to look and I didn’t know exactly what I was interested in, and now that I have discovered some of it I’m gutted that I only have a few months left here to enjoy it.
So today, people of Busan who have still haven’t found what they’re looking for, I present you with a short selection of events and causes to get involved with. Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list so if you are involved with something you want to shout about, write it in the comments section. Don’t shout about it in capital letters though, because that’s annoying and nobody will bother to read it.
In no particular order...
Sae Gil Women’s Shelter:
Once a month volunteers are encouraged to visit the shelter to spend time with the mothers and children temporarily housed there. Your valuable time could be spent visiting a local school or park, face painting with the kids, making arts and crafts or simply sharing some lunch with those around you.
The Sae Gil Women’s Shelter receives very little support from the government and community at present owing to the fact that, tragically, domestic violence is seen as a private issue to be kept behind closed doors.
December 15th marks the next visit, a Christmas/Holiday Party where volunteers will help, if possible, to provide the children with winter scarves, mittens and gloves to keep them warm throughout the freezing months ahead. The shelter will gratefully accept donations of cash, clothing, food and toiletries at any time and English teachers are always welcome to teach weekly or fortnightly classes to elementary, middle or high school students.
Please contact Cathrine Evanilla for more information, if you would like to donate or are thinking of volunteering: email@example.com
Busan Zumba: http://www.facebook.com/groups/335601386525162/
Do you love to dance? Are you interested in keeping fit? Do you enjoy sweating profusely whilst shaking your bum to K-Pop, salsa and everything in between? Are you excited by the prospect of doing all of this whilst donating money to a selection of worthy causes? Of course you do, you’re a sensible, intelligent human after all.
Busan now has two fully qualified Zumba instructors in Levy Solomon and Callie Sorensen and classes are held throughout the week with all profits currently going to the Pangasinan Association Medical Mission (serving towns in the Philippines) and a grass roots orphanage project in Africa. You can join in and get a great workout regardless of age, experience or fitness level so come along and get fit the Zumba way!
Cost: 5,000 won per (50-60 minute) class.
When? Usually Monday, Thursday and Saturday...but these often change so check the Facebook group!
Where? Feeling Latin Dance Studio, Seomyeon...check Facebook group for directions!
Busan Shindogs (BAPS): www.shindogs.org / https://www.facebook.com/shindogs
Another excellent volunteering opportunity, this time for all you animal-lovers out there. Founders Leo Mendoza and Jin Young a fantastic job running the sanctuary and also do a fantastic job describing the great work they do, which I will shamelessly copy and paste from their website:
“BAPS is a privately run independent dog sanctuary, providing a home for abandoned dogs since 2008. We aim to rehome as many dogs as possible. We are entirely volunteer-funded as we receive no support from the government or any other organization. We are a no-kill facility, as we commit ourselves to protecting every dog that enters our life. However, this means that we carefully select dogs for acceptance, and only intake animals when there has been an adoption, to protect the quality of life for residents and not to exceed our budgets.
We strive to run BAPS by western standards, providing true quality of life for the dogs along with full vaccinations and medical care. Our aim is to grow into a facility that serves as a model for sheltering in Korea, giving a second chance to as many animals as possible. We run our volunteering and day-to-day activities from our Facebook page, so please join and visit regularly for updated information!”
BAPS welcomes weekly volunteers for dog walking and is always gratefully accepting of donations to keep the shelter running to the absolute best of its capabilities. Please have a look at the website or join the Facebook group for more information on how to help out!
Yoga and Meditation: http://www.facebook.com/groups/busanyoga/?fref=ts
Life in Korea isn’t always a walk in the park, so we’re bound to get stressed every now and again. Relax, and strengthen your body and mind with instructors Callie Sorensen and Andrea Laubstein, who hold weekly yoga classes and various workshops throughout the year, such as the recent Acro/Partner Yoga Playshop and Ashtanga Yoga Workshop covering the theory and spiritual side of yoga and how to apply it on your mat and in your day-to-day life. People of all levels and even those brand new to yoga are welcome to come along and all proceeds are donated to causes close the instructor’s hearts, currently a recently founded orphanage in Kenya and the Jubilee House Community in Nicaragua.
Cost: 5,000 won for a one-hour class; Workshop costs vary
When? Please check the Facebook group (Busan Yoga & Meditation) for days/times
Where? Feeling Latin Dance Studio, Seomyeon (during winter months)
The Clean Eating Vegan and The Clean Eating Vegan Accountability Zone:
Less a weekly event and more a way to live, creator Natt Smith’s website and Facebook group is a great way for like minded foodie folks to stick together and help each other out along the way. In Busan it isn’t always easy being green, but Natt’s here to help with all the advice and knowledge you need. Here’s what she has to say about the group:
“The Clean Eating Vegan is an open forum where you will find loads of current treasure on health, fitness and plant based nutrition. I believe in a “wholistic” approach to nutrition which includes a diet rich in whole, plant based foods like fruits and vegetables. Stay in the loop by subscribing to www.cleaneatingvegan.com for upcoming events and fitness challenges.
CEV Accountability Zone is a Facebook group designed to encourage people to participate in healthy behaviors. We encourage at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day and each month we focus on a different healthy habit like drinking at least 2 liters of water a day. If you’re interested in joining please request to join the Facebook group.”
Urban Training: http://www.facebook.com/groups/BusanUrbanTraining/?fref=ts
I’m not going to pretend, I don’t know the first thing about fitness. Luckily, personal trainer and co-creator of Busan’s Urban Training Scottie Hoang does, so here he is to talk about running and muscles and looking awesome and stuff:
“Bringing the gym to the streets of Busan! Regardless of weather, we come together once a week to push each other to our maximum potential. Our workout materials comes from recyclable products or we use our creativity to invent something. Our workouts are never the same and range from crossfit and functional fitness to pilates, muscle development, and more! This is a group that motivates and inspires potential growth in various areas, so it’s not surprising that several of the Urban Trainers have already been inspired to start up a passion of their own! Join the Busan Urban Training Facebook page for more information.”
Capoerista Samantha Aidoo says:
“Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines dance, music, fighting movements, theatre and ritual. The game is played between two people to the rhythm of Afro-Brazilian music. It helps to improve co-ordination, flexibility, fitness and develop confidence through self-expression. The origins of Capoeira date back to the times of colonial Brazil, when slaves from Africa were deported and utilised for work in the plantations owned by the Portuguese Crown. The people of Africa in Brazil developed unique cultural expressions, still visible today in many aspects of Brazilian arts, religion and spirituality, music and rituals.
Capoeira has crossed the borders of Latin America and is also practiced by millions in Europe, Asia, US and Africa. Capoeira develops style, wit, flexibility and strategy. It does incredible wonders for fitness, cross-cultural awareness and cultivating strong friendships.
Our sessions are led by capoeiristas who have a passion for the game and seek to share and learn with each other. We endeavour to train in both styles (Angola and Regional) twice a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays) - from 6.30pm to 8.00pm.
At the moment, we are training at the All That Dance (Hezra) studio in Gwangan. Please check the Facebook group for directions and notifications about classes, and please leave a message on the wall or privately if you want to come along!
Language Cast: http://www.facebook.com/groups/Languagecastbusan/?fref=ts
Organised by Joong Ho Park, Language Cast Busan (formerly ‘Language Exchange Meet-Up’) is a fantastic opportunity for foreigners and Koreans alike to make friends and build cross cultural connections whilst improving their language skills.
Meetings are informal, enjoyable and helpful so there’s really no excuse to stay home! Language cast member Annie has this to say about the event:
“Language Cast is a great way to make new friends and to practice speaking or teaching different languages, including Korean, English and Spanish. If you are looking for an informal conversation with friends or want to learn or teach phrases or vocabulary in a smaller group, Language Cast offers both. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and learning some helpful and interesting Korean phrases with the friends I have made there.”
Weekly meetings are held at La Vie en Rose coffee shop and are absolutely free provided that each person purchase a drink. Everyone is welcome!
When? Monday, 7-9.30pm
Where? La Vie en Rose (near to Jeonpo Subway Station, Exit 7)