Give2Asia works with highly qualified field advisors in 25 countries, providing on-the-ground insight into each local scene in addition to compelling projects that have been accomplished or are currently underway. Take a behind-the-scenes look with our field advisors here on the Give2Asia blog. We continue our spotlight series with MinHee Kim, our field advisor in Korea.
Where do you live and where have you lived?
I had been living in Seoul, Korea until a year ago, when I moved to a nearby city called Suwon after marriage. As for overseas, I spent one year (2002-3) in Pennsylvania, USA as an exchange student, and another one year (2005-6) in London for my master’s degree. But other than that, I was born and have lived in Korea!
Can you tell us about your work for Give2Asia?
I work for about 10 donor companies and 20 NGO grantees in Korea as a field advisor. I support the administrative works that grantees need in order to take in the funds in various ways, like giving advice when writing proposals and reports, proofreading the translation, etc. I also support donors by providing any advice or updates, and sometimes by recommending new organizations for their volunteering or funding opportunities.
What is the one thing Give2Asia’s community of donors and grantees should know about Korea's social sector?
I think one of the important social issues in Korea is the livelihoods of North Korean refugees and their children in South Korea. While the number of refugees increases, the national support for them is still limited and not comprehensive, I think. Many of the children still grow up in poverty, without full recognition of their national identities as Korean and with their higher chances of growing up as youth at risk. Additionally, most of the children do not know the Korean language well, since they were born and raised in China. Despite this, they are our children and will help to shape our future. Without proper aid, however, I am concerned that they are still too marginalized and their potential is just lost.
I hope that there is more public interest and support for the social inclusion, adjustment, and settlement of the refugees, as they are our brothers and sisters, above all things. I think expanding support to the North Korean refugees and especially their children is one of the wisest ways to prepare the national reunification.
What is your favorite Give2Asia project and why?
I think my favorite project is “My Sister’s Place." It supports Korean and foreign victims and survivors of sexual exploitation (all women) near the US military camptowns in Korea. After the Korean war in 1950, the US army began taking camp in Korea. The sex industry near their settlements brought in Korean women as sort of comfort women, who mostly chose this work in order to survive the destitute situation after the war.
Because the Korean government has only recently begun providing services to these women, both survivors (mostly Korean women), and victims (mostly foreign migrant women from Philippines and Vietnam) of the sexual exploitation now suffer from poverty, social stigmatization, and other forms of marginalization. Since this issue is not well-known and does not receive lots of public support, the dedicated cause and efforts of My Sister’s Place is such rare and precious work.
What are your interests? What do you like to do in your free time?
I am an active person who likes to do outdoor activities, like swimming, strolling, yoga, and dancing. Currently, I am learning NANTA (a type of drumming) and dancing once a week with the group of friends. It’s been 8 months and last December, we successfully performed in a NANTA and dance show.
What is your favorite food?
I love Korean (of course), Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, American, and Italian food, among others. If I have to choose, I am very much in love with seaweed soup, vegetarian curry, and kimchi stew (all in the Korean versions).
What are you reading right now?
To lead up to the Buddhist pilgrimage I took on January (6th to 20th for 15 days) in Northeastern India, I have been reading the books on the Buddha’s life.