SIWA | Seoul International Women's Association Enhancing lives through friendship, enrichment & charity. Thu, 27 Feb 2020 11:52:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SIWA | Seoul International Women's Association 32 32 Corona virus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak Thu, 27 Feb 2020 09:01:56 +0000 Dear SIWA members,

The South Korean government raised the country’s alert contagious disease alert to the maximum level following the confirmation of hundreds of COVID-19 infections over the weekend. Concerned about the health and safety of our members, SIWA’s executive leaders had an emergency discussion and decided to tentatively cancel all events in March until further notice. The annual General Meeting will be postponed as well.
SIWA will monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and comply with the recommendations issued by the authorities. We are for the inconvenience and thank you for your continued support. Hope you all stay healthy and safe.

Yours sincerely,
Veronica Koon
SIWA President

New Cancellation Policy on SIWA Tours and Interest Groups Sat, 01 Feb 2020 05:26:13 +0000 SIWA Tour Team announces a new cancellation policy which will be applied from 1st of February, 2020.

“Members who have registered for SIWA activities and failed to attend on THREE CONSECUTIVE occasions will not be permitted to register for subsequent SIWA tour for one month”

* Cancellation period: two days prior to a tour

Please be aware of this when you register on a tour/event. Every tour and interest group coordinator is working as a volunteer. So please respect their time and work to provide a tour for SIWA members. Last minute cancellation without a notice or a serious reason doesn’t respect the team’s hard work.

Hope to see more members at our tours & events in 2020! 🙂

SIWA Essay Contest 2020 Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:33:06 +0000 ELIGIBILITY: Students in grades 7–12 enrolled at

1) International Schools: Seoul Foreign School, British Education Korea, Dwight School Seoul
2) Korean/multicultural schools: All Love School, Asia Community School, Haemil School, The Future Classroom

For Juniors (grades 7–8, or British School years 8–9): CHOOSE ONE

  • Imagine you are visiting planet Earth from another planet. How do you see us treating our planet and preserving or not preserving it for future generations? What advice would you give for the inhabitants of planet Earth to shape a better future? How can we be more sustainable by our everyday choices and decisions?
  • Tourism can be a heavy burden on the environment. How can we travel and spend our
    holidays in a sustainable way while enjoying a fun vacation?
  • How do you think schools could take a better lead in educating children to be more
    sustainable and showing a good example?

For Seniors (grades 9–12, or British School years 10–13): CHOOSE ONE

  • Should people who own cars pay more taxes because of the pollution their cars cause to the environment? How can we make public transportation more attractive option for
    those who typically drive their own cars?
  • Which environmental activist, policy or company, that implemented change to positively
    impact the environment, do you find inspiring and why?
  • What are, in your opinion, the three or four most important steps to be done today to reverse
    the environmental damage caused by humans? What are the responsibilities of governments,
    companies and businesses, and people? How bad is today’s consumerist life style and what
    did you (or what would you) personally give up to help the environment?

PRIZES in Junior and Senior categories for both International and Korean/multicultural schools:

  • 1st Place (junior) – 300,000 KRW to be donated to a SIWA-vetted Korean charity of the winner’s choice – certificate of recognition presented at SIWA celebration
  • 1st Place (senior) – 500,000 KRW to be donated to a SIWA-vetted Korean charity of the winner’s choice & certificate of recognition presented at SIWA celebration
  • 2nd & 3rd Place (both junior & senior) – certificate of recognition

SIWA will donate in the winners’ names to a SIWA-vetted charity of their choice. The winners will be invited to SIWA’s event on March 18, and winning essays will be published in SIWA’s website.


  • Essay word limit: 1,500 words, Essays must be typed, double-space in English.
  • Deadline to submit essays: February 9
  • Essays can be submitted to
    They must include the student’s name, school, grade, email address and phone number.
    Essays must be students’ own work. Plagiarized essays will be disqualified and not eligible for prize

A panel of judges led by SIWA will score the essays. Areas of evaluation (in an order of importance): how well is the topic addressed, how creative and original the thoughts presented in the essay are, organization/structure, and grammar.

For more information please email

Click on the flyer image to see it in full size.

Meet SIWA President, Veronica Koon Fri, 20 Sep 2019 05:43:34 +0000 Have you ever wondered what the lives of other SIWA members are like and what they get up to on a daily basis?

Earlier this month, I got the chance to find out just what Veronica Koon, SIWA President, does when she isn’t attending SIWA meetings and events. We met at HEYGROUND, SIWA’s new office location.

As if I wasn’t already in awe of Veronica, I learned that she successfully balances work and leisure with her husband and adorable dog, Bailey.

One of the inspiring murals at HEYGROUND.

She has two businesses.

Veronica is an extremely accomplished businesswoman with two Hong Kong-based but multinational businesses to her name: one is an event and conference management firm, and the other an import/export trade consulting company. Regular meetings and conference calls keep her busy. Considering how hard she works for SIWA, it is inspiring to hear that she is successfully managing two companies as well!

She relaxes by exercising and spending time with Bailey.

As a teenager, Veronica began to follow a healthy lifestyle. Every morning, she takes Bailey for a walk, drinks lots of water, and eats breakfast. Luckily, she lives close to an abundance of nature in the south of the city! In fact, Veronica loves exercising, so a healthy lifestyle comes easily to her. She enjoys yoga when she can, does CrossFit, and tries to be constantly active throughout her day.

She studies Korean.

Since arriving in Korea, Veronica set herself to learning Korean to better communicate with others here. After studying at various places, she now works on her spoken fluency with regular Skype lessons. She hopes that with her improved Korean skills, she can better communicate with local businesses and charities to further SIWA’s involvement in the community.

She attends lots of meetings and events.

Veronica’s days are filled with SIWA meetings with both the other members of the executive board and companies who are engaged in work with SIWA. She is very focused and makes sure all her meetings are purposeful and participants spend their time efficiently. We’re all busy after all!

She can take a breather in fall.

After becoming SIWA President earlier this year, Veronica threw herself into the work over the summer. She devoted most of her time – 8-10 hours per day – to meeting leaders, getting to know her job and the intricacies of being president inside out. Having spent so much time and effort doing this, she can relax now in the fall.

Five Final Questions

  1. Who do you admire?

My husband.

  1. What is your biggest regret?

I don’t have regrets. If I do something wrong, I fix it.

  1. Where would you like to visit next?

Africa. I’m a city girl, so I want to experience something totally different from what I’m used to.

  1. How do you relax?

Massages. In Hong Kong, I would get one every week! I don’t have many opportunities here, but I get one when I can.

  1. Do you prefer mornings or evenings?

Mornings. It is when I have the most energy.

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Connection issues on website Sun, 15 Sep 2019 09:09:23 +0000 Due to a server uprgrade we have experienced some occasional connection issues on SIWA’s website.
If you have been unable to register to Enrichment Showcase or another upcoming event you can email
Sorry for the inconvenience, we are working to fix the website issue as soon as possible! Thank you for your patience.

SIWA Year in Review 2018-2019 Fri, 13 Sep 2019 02:10:15 +0000 By Robin Carney, President Emerita

Dear SIWA Supporter

Looking back on the SIWA year that was 2018-19, I feel both proud and nostalgic. I write this letter from my new home in Singapore and think back upon my time in Seoul, and how much SIWA meant to me. SIWA more than lived up to its mission of “enhancing lives through friendship, enrichment and charity” throughout my four year stay in Korea. It was a great personal honor to serve as President during my final year in Seoul.

I had the privilege of overseeing SIWA’s continued philanthropic support, for the second consecutive year, of All Love School, dedicated to the education of multicultural students in Korea. During 2018-19 our Welfare Committee embarked on a second Philanthropy Project, selecting the issue of unwed mothers in Korea and their need for equality in employment opportunities, social recognition and dignity. Our committee was proud to conduct a rigorous selection process for a deserving organization working to provide vocational training and education for this underserved population. We presented the first annual donation of 20 million KRW to Korean Unwed Mothers’ Families Association (KUMFA) at our Spring Gala.

Raising funds for these and other worthy charities would not have been possible without the support of our members and sponsors, and for this, we thank you. Together we were able to donate over 67.5 million KRW to 10 Korean organizations serving disadvantaged people in our host nation.

Along the way, we managed to make lasting friendships and have a lot of fun together. One of my fondest memories of 2018-19 was an unsuccessful fundraising attempt: SIWA’s participation on stage in the Itaewon Global Festival. Although we did not bring home the cash prize, our team’s willingness to learn a dance routine in only 2 rehearsals, don sparkly headbands and bellbottoms and sing ABBA in front of a large crowd made me incredibly proud of the lengths our volunteers will go to for SIWA!

We celebrated International Women’s Day with our second annual student essay contest, this time opening up a category for students whose first language is not English. I was fortunate to be asked to be one of the judges of this year’s contest and the essays, not just the winners, brought tears to my eyes as I realized that the next generation really aims to achieve gender balance. The fact that two of our winners happened to be young men speaks a lot for today’s youth. We have included the winning essays in this publication and hope they will inspire you.

I would like to end by extending my heartfelt thanks to the entire SIWA team who poured their time, energy and love into making this organization a home for me and hundreds of other women in Seoul. It has meant so much to me to be a part of SIWA and all that it stands for. I wish Veronica Koon, the 2019-20 President, and her team all the best as they continue to make SIWA a special place for expats and Koreans alike.

I hope you will enjoy our third publication of Year in Review 2018-19.

September Announcement by SIWA President Veronica Koon Mon, 02 Sep 2019 12:25:05 +0000 Dear SIWA Members and Partners,

We are glad to inform you about the following change at SIWA:


Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) advises that effective from today, our registered office has changed to:

Seoul International Women’s Association
S606, Heyground
5 Ttukseom-ro 1na-gil
Seongdong-gu, Seoul 04779
South Korea

Heyground launched in June 2017 as the first co-working community of changemakers in Korea. Many social ventures, non-profit organisations, NGOs, intermediary organisations, and pro-bono service providers are working together at Heyground.

SIWA, as the largest and longest-running international women’s organisation in Korea, has supported Korean charities since 1962. This year, the board decided that the philanthropic side of our activities would benefit from Heyground’s innovative and collaborative culture. By becoming a part of Heyground’s ecosystem, SIWA hopes to explore new directions and further increase our impact on women’s causes and Korea’s charity initiatives.

As a part of our long-term development plan, SIWA’s internal meetings and Working Women’s Network events will take place at our spacious and modern Heyground office. At this new space, we hope to establish a stronger bond among our members and partners. Thus, our office will be open for visit every Friday between 10am to 2pm. You can make an appointment by emailing Please visit us!

Yours Sincerely,
Veronica Koon

President of SIWA

“Korea’s Past Around Us: Invented Traditions, the Unnoticed, and Erased Memories” Coffee Morning Mon, 26 Aug 2019 11:28:26 +0000 Walking into the Boccalino Wine Bar on the 2nd floor of the Four Seasons Hotel – SIWA’s new location for Coffee Mornings – I was met with smiling faces, laughter, and friendly chatter all around me. We were all there to see familiar faces, make friends, and of course to listen to a talk on “Korea’s Past Around Us: Invented Traditions, the Unnoticed, and Erased Memories.”

One new member of SIWA that I spoke to, Ciara Anderson, said that she had recently arrived in Korea and was looking forward to learning about Korean history and its connection to modern Korea. She came to the right place.

Our esteemed guest speaker was Dr. Javier Cha, assistant professor of East Asian Studies in the College of Liberal Studies at Seoul National University. Dr. Cha lectures on what Korea is now, how Korea has become Korea, and how it continues to change.

Throughout the morning, we learned some common myths and stereotypes (“Korea is small”, but actually it is the same size as the UK, and if Korea were in Europe it would be considered an average-sized country), buildings that embody in the past but may not be that old (being made of wood, many historical buildings have been damaged naturally or in war, so they have been reconstructed), remaining elements of colonialism that can still be seen today in Myeong-dong, and most popular of all origins and explanations of some Korean dishes and eating habits. For example, one particular nugget that stood out to me was that Korean food has become spicier than ever before over the past couple of decades after Shin Ramyun hit the shelves and became an instant hit. In fact, Korean food has seen a 20-fold increase in spiciness.

Dr. Cha’s passion for his subject was infectious and he had so much interesting information for us, but the time flew by and we couldn’t hear everything. Personally, I would have loved to hear more and am hoping that there will be more talks like this in the future. Dr. Cha’s insights really brought parts of Korea and Seoul into focus and have prompted me to open my eyes more as I move around the city.

Sadly, this Coffee Morning was the last such event to be organized by our outgoing Hospitality Chair, Rachel Ashby-Sexton; however, Jennifer Cho will be taking over and organizing future events.

I also look forward to enjoying more events at the Boccalino. I’m sure you agree with how comfortable the space was and how conducive it was to our event. The Four Seasons is a wonderful location in the center of the city to visit again and again.



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August 2019 Announcement Mon, 29 Jul 2019 10:09:01 +0000 To all SIWA members,

Summer is usually the time when many people get ready for their next adventures: back to school, new job, or life in a new country, for example. If you just moved to Seoul and joined SIWA, welcome!

Six years ago, SIWA partnered with Conrad Seoul when the hotel first opened. We were offered great rates to hold events at Conrad and developed a great business relationship. Regrettably, our overall venue price increased without expanded service since last year. For this reason, the SIWA board decided to host some of our events at other locations with better value. While we will maintain our partnership with Conrad, we are pleased to announce that we will move our three Coffee Mornings and the Charity Gala to Four Seasons Hotel Seoul. This change is a part of our ongoing effort to improve the SIWA membership experience.

SIWA is run 100% by volunteers and all proceeds go to our Welfare Fund. Last year we donated 67.5 million won to more than 10 charities. To expand our fundraising efforts, we will adjust the non-member price of events. As always, pre-registered members will be asked to pay only the exact cost of organizing that event. By communicating more clearly the value of price adjustment, we hope to increase the participation of members and non-members in the year ahead.

We will monitor these initiatives closely and make refinements and improvements according to the feedback we receive from our members. SIWA is grateful for your support. By coming together at this juncture, our community will continue our collective mission of enhancing lives through friendship, enrichment and charity.

Yours Sincerely,

Veronica Koon
President of SIWA

The Leeum: An Oasis in Seoul Wed, 17 Jul 2019 01:39:31 +0000
SIWA members outside the Leeum
Bathing in the glow of ‘Gravity Stairs’ by Olafur Eliasson

“A beautifully designed art museum, containing both a section of contemporary art and one with traditional Korean arts. And definitely a must-see for the architecture! It’s such a pleasure to introduce this museum to SIWA members!” says our wonderful tour leader, Sejung, who met us on a hot and humid Tuesday morning to spend a few hours absorbing some culture.

Immediately stepping inside, we got relief from the humidity outside on the streets. I could instantly feel myself relax first in the cavernous bright high-ceilinged rooms and then in the cool dark display areas. In addition, I appreciated the fact that the Leeum limits the number of visitors allowed in at one time so as not to ruin the tranquil atmosphere of quiet reflection the architects and designers have created.

The Leeum has three areas – two museums and the outside area.

Museum 1 houses the ancient traditional art of the Joseon and Goryeo dynasties, paintings and calligraphy, and Buddhist art and metalware. In addition, you can find some modern art pieces (Mark Rothko and Alberto Giacometti) among the traditional ones in an effort to connect the ancient to the present.

Museum 2 is home to contemporary artworks. I was particularly surprised to see three Damien Hirst pieces here (Nothing to Fear, Dark Round Spiral Butterfly, and Dark Oval Butterfly – the latter two being beautiful kaleidoscopes made from thousands of butterfly wings) as well as others by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anish Kapoor, and more by Mark Rothko.

Outside the museum are some of its most eye-catching pieces, which are perfect for photo opportunities as you can see in the picture.

Impressive outside artwork

There really is something for everyone – no matter what your taste.

This was Sejung’s third SIWA visit to the Leeum as tour leader because it is so popular and each time the spots sell out extremely quickly! If you would like to visit the Leeum, please look for future excursions to pop up on the calendar. If you simply cannot wait until then, head to the museum website to organize your own trip.


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