Thursday, 4 July 2019

A typical day of a YCC volunteer tour guide

The volunteer tour guides at Youth Cultural Corps work really hard to provide good quality tours to foreign visitors. However, it takes a lot of preparation to learn how to be great! Let's take a look to find out how our volunteers get through a typical day involving a foreign visitor. 

Our volunteers usually start off by taking a class at the YCC Headquarters before they go to the tourist site. The YCC has its own bus which takes the students straight to the location where they will be volunteering. Here is one of our volunteers getting off the bus. 

The volunteers can be usually found waiting outside of the palace for a tourist to match up with. We usually set up a tent near the entrance of the palace where you can find us. Here's an example of a tent that we use when we are at Deoksugung.

Our volunteers usually wear uniforms which change according to the season. During the summer, you can find them wearing orange polo shirts with beige hats and khaki pants. As you can see, orange is a recurring color in our YCC uniform. 

The tours vary in length, but it is usually an hour long. As long as you fill out the feedback form at the end, the tours provided by YCC are absolutely free. Our students  provide tours in English and Chinese, but not in Korean! This is because we want to encourage our students to be more outgoing. By interacting with people from other cultures, the student is encouraged to be more open minded and creative. 

It's amazing how diverse Korea has become as a result of Hallyu. Many of the tourists that we meet are from other parts of Asia as well as Europe and North America. The YCC usually works at one of the following places, Gyeongbokgung, Deoksugung, Changdeokgung and Namsangol Hanok Village.

After the tour, our volunteers either wait until the others are done or go straight home. If a teacher is present, the students usually get a closing lesson before the day ends. 
To get a free tour with one of our volunteers, go to our reservation page to sign up for a time slot. You can also just stop by our tent any time. Either way, enjoy your stay in Korea!

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Remembering Yu Gwan-sun

It is probably hard to believe that Korea and Japan are still on extremely bad terms since WWII happened over fifty years ago. In the past, Korea was like a cultural bridge between China and Japan. There was an active exchange of ideas and the Japanese were considered allies. However, it can be said that the impact the Japanese colonization had on Korea is felt even to this day. 

Japan began to convey its intention to extend its power to Korea with a naval attack on Ganghwa Island in 1875. Afterward, Japan forced Korea to sign a series of Western style trade agreements which granted the Japanese more and more influence over Korea. Because China was no longer the center of power in Asia, it could not intervene.

King Gojong, the last emperor of Joseon Dynasty, was trapped. The Eulsa Treaty of 1905, which made Korea a protectorate of Imperial Japan, was not signed by Gojong but by five of his ministers, who had betrayed him. Gojong died only a few years after the assassination of his wife, Queen Min. It was rumored that he was poisoned to death.

With the monarchy waning in power, it became the responsibility of the people to look after the country. On the day of the King’s funeral, March 1st of 1919, a demonstration was held to proclaim the independence of Korea. The Japanese forces responded to the demonstration with much brutality, injuring and killing anybody who took part in it.

Anybody who opposed the Japanese were sent to Seodaemun Prison, where severe inhuman atrocities were committed. Among those who were tortured and killed at Seodaemun was Yu Gwan-sun, a student from Ewha Girls High School. She was only sixteen at the time when her life was turned upside down forever.

As a bright young woman, Yu was captivated by the energy of the March 1st Movement. She was active in organizing a protest for Korean independence in her hometown of Cheonan on April 1st, 1919. Though the protest was peaceful, her parents were killed and Yu was sent to prison for committing the act of sedition.

It is hard to describe the kind of tortures that she faced at the hands of her captors at Seodaemun. Nonetheless, her desire for a liberated Korea remained strong. Yu declared in prison that, “even if my fingernails are torn out, my nose and ears are ripped apart, and my legs and arms are crushed, this physical pain does not compare to the pain of losing my nation.”

Due to the harsh beatings and poor conditions that she endured, Yu died in September of 1920. After her death was announced, the Japanese tried to dispose of the the body privately because they wanted to hide the evidence of torture. However, Lulu Frey, a principal at Ewha Girls High School, ensured the return of Yu’s corpse from Seodaemun so Yu could be given a burial.

Many freedom fighters and innocent people were killed during the Japanese rule, which lasted from 1910 to 1945. Perhaps we would not be here if it weren't for martyrs such as Yu Gwan-sun, who fought for freedom to the very end. Even though Japan and Korea have yet to find peace, Yu will be remembered for her courage in the face of war.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Discover Korean History with the Youth Cultural Corps

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion at Gyeongbokgung Palace

In the past, when a king governed the Korean peninsula, it was impossible for anybody to enter the royal palaces. A royal palace such as Gyeongbokgung was a private residence where the king lived with his family and his servants. In order to pass the gates, you had to get permission, which was very hard to get. Such rights were reserved only for people in high positions.

A volunteer tour guide with an international tourist at Deoksugung

A very different reality exists at the royal palaces today. For only a few thousand won, everybody can go to a royal palace and dive into Korean history. As long as you are courteous, you can take pictures, look around and enjoy a cup of coffee. Nowadays, you can see foreigners from all over the world dressed in hanbok at the royal palaces, which are now open for the public to see.

A mythical creature carved on a stairway at Deoksugung

Even though the palace structures are made of wood, they are very sturdy due to practice of dancheong, or traditional decorative wood painting. These ancient works of architecture remind us of a time when ideologies such as Confucianism and Buddhism were dominant in Korea. Many motifs of dragons, phoenixes and other mythical creatures can be found throughout the palaces.

Colorful dancheong painted on the palace structures of Gyeongbokgung

For students at Youth Cultural Corps, an organization which aims to promote Korean history and culture, a royal palace is an integral part of their education. Every weekend, you can find the YCC at places such as Gyeongbokgung, Deoksugung, Changdeokgung and Namsangol Hanok Village. As volunteer tour guides, the YCC gives free tours to international visitors in English or Chinese.

Students from the Youth Cultural Corps

To receive a tour with a volunteer tour guide from Youth Cultural Corps, go to the reservation page to get the full schedule. You can also find us directly on the weekends from 10am to 4pm at Deoksugung, Changdeokgung, Gyeongbokgung or Namsangol Hanok Village. Follow YCC on Facebook at if to get updates on Korean history and more.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

YCC students in action for 2nd week of May

If you're a fan of K-pop, you probably know that BTS is making headlines right now with their sold out concerts and crazy fans! They are a prime example of Hallyu, or Korean Wave. Hallyu is a term that refers to the rise of Korean pop culture in various parts of the world, including China, Japan and US. More and more tourists are coming to Korea as a result of Hallyu. 

Students with tourists at Gyeongbokgung

As a country with the highest Internet penetration rate in the world, many foreigners find traveling in Korea to be easy. Korea is also known for having the highest percentage of post secondary educated people in the world. In the past, the majority of Koreans were illiterate. This changed dramatically in the last century with the widespread use of Hangul.

Students helping tourists at Namsangol Hanok Village. 

The YCC give free tours every weekend. 


Join us for a free tour if you're interested!

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The coming of early summer with YCC at Gyeongbokgung

It is the middle of May and the weather is getting hotter early. However, our YCC students are concentrating about commentary guide on historical places in Seoul. The free tour guide gives much information to foreign tourists and students can be more confidential.

These are the students at Gyeongbokgung. YCC students can speak English and Chinese. They can grow communication skills with foreigners through this kind of volunteering activities.


Foreign tourists come from many various countries. They are astonished and really get impressed by the knowledge of students about the history and the information of Gyeongbokgung. Through the explanation of the students, foreigners can acquire a lot of knowledge about Korean royal palace.

This picture is an example, that a student is explaining about the ranking stones for foreigner. Tourists can understand what is the meaning of ranking stone and think about the system of officials of Joseon Dynasty.

When you come to Gyeongbokgung or any other cultural heritage sites in Seoul in weekend, YCC students will be there!

If you are interested with royal palaces of Seoul, then please contact us and we will briefly serve you! Visit our official website for the details on how to contact us.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The coming of spring with YCC

As the weather continues to heat up in anticipation of summer, more people are taking the time to visit historical places in Seoul. Our students from YCC were at Namsan Hanok Village and Gyeongbokgung once again to help international visitors. The free tours that our students provide are an opportunity for people from abroad to learn about the history of Korea. Let's take a look at some of the pictures our employees were able to take. 

Here are some pictures of our students at Namsangol Hanok Village. Many of our students speak a second language, such as English or Chinese. Most of our students enjoy volunteering because it helps them develop their communication skills. 

The tourists we help are usually from diverse parts of Europe or southeast Asia. They get impressed by the level of knowledge that our students have. Most of them are also in Korea for the first time, which means our students play an important role in helping them adapt. 

This is a picture I took of our students with a pair of international tourists at Gyeongbokgung. During this weekend, the 2019 Royal Culture Festival was in procession. Many tourists were out and about to enjoy the various performances and programs that were happening at the Five Grand Palaces of Seoul. 

If you're in Seoul and you want a personalized tour with one of our volnteer tour guides, don't hesitate to contact us! We will be most honored to serve you. Visit our official website for the details on how to contact us. 

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Deoksugung Palace

Gwangmyeongmun Gate

Tucked away in a busy corner of Seoul is Deoksugung Palace, where you can find refuge from the neon lights and the endless stream of cars. This was the main palace of King Gojong during the last days of the Korean monarchy. Because Deoksgugung took a lot of damage during the Japanese colonial rule, only a third of its structures can be seen today.  

Ceremony at the main gate, Daehanmun

Even if you have not been inside the palace before, you might have seen the ceremony at Daehanmun, the main gate, which takes place three times a day. The changing of the royal guards is done in remembrance of the time when the palace was occupied by the royal family. Admission for the palace is currently ₩1,000 per person.  

The main hall, Jungwhajeon

As the smallest among the Five Grand Palaces of Seoul, Deoksugung was often used as a temporary residence for kings. King Seonjo resided here when all the other palaces in Seoul were burned down due to the Imjin Wars. Deoksugung was called other names in the past, such as Hyeongungung and Gyeongungung, before it became known as what it is today. 

Seokjojeon, the building designed by a British architect

The transformation that Korea has gone through can be witnessed through the buildings that remain inside this palace. What makes Deoksugung different from the other palaces is that two of its buildings were designed in European style. These buildings were built in the early 20th century, shortly before the last king of the Korean monarchy, King Gojong, passed away. 

Volunteer tour guides from Youth Cultural Corps giving a tourist a tour

As a coordinator for the Youth Cultural Corps, a non-profit organization with a focus on Korean history, I visit Deoksugung quite a lot. My job is to help students match with tourists who want to receive a free tour. Deoksugung is one of the palaces that the Youth Cultural Corps visits on the weekends, along with Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung. 

To come here, take line no. 1 or 2 and get off at City Hall. It should take you no longer than five minutes to reach the entrance of the palace. 

Youth Cultural Corps Volunteer Guide Service

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Hanok Village
Deoksugung Palace
Seoul Education Museum
in Bukchon Hanok Village
Changdeokgung Palace
Seodaemun Prison
History Museum
Amsa Prehistory Settlement Site
10:00 ~ 11:50
10:00 ~ 11:50
10:00 ~ 11:50
10:00 ~ 13:00
10:00 ~ 12:00
10:00 ~ 12:00
10:00 ~ 13:00
12:00 ~ 15:50
12:00 ~ 15:50
12:00 ~ 15:50
13:00 ~ 16:00
13:00 ~ 15:00
13:00 ~ 15:00
13:00 ~ 16:00
Sat. & Sun.
-2nd & 4th Sat.
-Every Sun.
-2nd & 4th Sat.
-1st & 3rd Sat.
-Every Sun