Habitat for Humanity South Korea
Habitat's work in South Korea
South Korea News and Stories
In 1992, a group of volunteers were keen to see if the Habitat for Humanity model would work in Korea. With land donated by a Christian communal village and funds from individual donors, these volunteers completed three houses in Yangju county, Uijeongbu city, Gyeonggi province, about 30 km. north of Seoul, two years later. The program really took off after 2001 when Habitat’s largest annual volunteer event, the Carter Work Project, took place in Korea. The country’s then president, Kim Dae-Jung, was among 9,000 volunteers to join former US president Jimmy Carter as they built 136 homes in one week on multiple sites. To date, Habitat has provided 2,120 families in Korea and more than 3,890 families overseas with secure and affordable housing and related support services.
Housing needs in Korea
In contrast to its poverty two generations ago, Korea and its people have created a unique prosperity. In November 2009, Korea joined the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development as its newest member, marking the first time that a former aid recipient became a donor. Yet in spite of a higher standard of living, housing is not always affordable. In December 2011, local media reported that the government will provide more than 20,000 housing units which will be made available to college students and low-income earners with cheap rent. The government is also clamping down on speculative demand, especially in the capital Seoul and the metropolitan area, home to more than half of the country’s population.
How Habitat for Humanity works
HFH Korea plays an active role in the Habitat world, building and renovating houses at home as well as abroad. On average, a Habitat house covers 72 sq. m. and is made of concrete, lumber, plywood, drywall, insulation, siding and shingle. Because of the country’s harsh winters, insulation is a must. Construction time is about six to seven months. Habitat also extends the reach of its programs through resource centers. HFH Korea launched its first resource center in August 2009 in Hwaseong city on the outskirts of the capital Seoul. Another two resource centers opened in Yangpyeong and Daejeon. In addition, Habitat attracts approximately 30,000 Korean volunteers annually who
help to build, repair and rehabilitate houses in the country.
Supporting Habitat’s work overseas
HFH Korea supports housing projects and raises funds for disaster response in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2011, the government’s overseas aid arm, Korea International Co-operation Agency, has channeled more than US$305,000 through HFH Korea for building, repairing and rehabilitating houses in Nepal and Bangladesh in Asia, and for infrastructure projects in Madagascar in Africa. HFH Korea has also raised about US$100,000 for disaster-affected countries in the region such as Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam which suffered severe flooding in 2011, and Japan which was hit by a tsunami and earthquake in March 2011.
HFH Korea is a strong supporter of Global Village international volunteer builds. Each year, South Korea sends between 40 teams, or up to 700 volunteers, overseas, to various countries in the Asia-Pacific region such as Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mexico and, more recently, to other parts of the world. HFH Korea also sends teams of college students supported by Korean corporations such as Hyundai Motor Group and POSCO to build in Habitat’s housing and post-disaster reconstruction projects. Teams have worked in China’s Guangdong and Sichuan provinces, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam as well as in Brazil and Ethiopia.
December 2011: Celebration of the 2,000th family served milestone in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi province.
- August 2011: HFH Korea received a US$180,000 grant from The Citi Foundation for house construction and a financial education initiative to serve more than 120 families in Yangpyeong, Chuncheon and Daejeon among some areas.
- July 2011: Citi Card members in Korea were given an opportunity to support Habitat for Humanity under a new partnership. Card members could use their Citi points to donate to Habitat or other organizations such as UNICEF. In addition, 30 Citi Card customers were invited to build with HFH Korea in its New Hope Project.
- June 2011: A total of nearly 90 Korean college students supported by Hyundai Motor built in Conghua, Guangdong province. Earlier, in January 2011, more than 120 Korean volunteers similarly supported by Hyundai built in Fengmulang
- village, Guangdong. Hyundai has been funding the Happy Move Global Youth Volunteers program since 2009.
- May 2011: HFH Korea’s work was highlighted in the Hope TV program on corporate social responsibility and fundraising. Within days of the program being broadcast by SBS, one of the country’s top broadcasters, about 350 people committed to each donating 30,000 won (about US$30) a month to HFH Korea.
- January 2011: HFH Korea completed homes in multi-story residential buildings for 18 families in Hwaseong city and eight families in Yangpyeong city, both on the outskirts of the capital Seoul. These homes were part of the “New Hope Project” launched by HFH Korea in late 2009.
- October 2010: To mark World Habitat Day, HFH Korea mobilized hundreds of volunteers to build a house at the city hall square in Seoul which was later moved and provided to a family in Yangpyeong. Other programs included a fashion show and a Photo Wall with creative responses to the question “What will you build?”
- September 2010: HFH Korea launched the “Global Capital Campaign” to harness resources and organized the “Golden Hammer Club”, a special giving club, as a part of the campaign. August 2010: HFH Korea held its first-ever Poets Build with 30 Korean poets working on eight units in a two-story residential building in Yangpyeong. After the build, the poet-volunteers gathered at a local park to recite poetry on home and family.
Population: 48,754,657 (July 2011 est.)
Area: 99,720 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Korean
Languages: Korean, English widely taught in schools
Religions: Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3% (1995 census)
Literacy: 97.9% (2002)
Urbanization: 83% (2010)
Population Living on US$1.25 a Day: 98% (2009)
Access to Improved Water Sources: 100% (2009)
Sources: The World Factbook, World Bank