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The Cultural Heritage of SEOUL(TBS)

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  • The Hall of Early Modern Women: Korea YWCA

  • SMG 2396

    The Joseon Young Women’s Christian Association (Joseon YWCA) was first established through the efforts of three pioneering sinyeoseong (new women): Kim Pil-lye, Helen Kim (Kim Hwalan), and Yu Kak-kyung. After becoming a member of the World YWCA federation in 1924, the Korean YWCA played a role in the national enlightenment movement at the height of the Japanese colonial period. It was also the starting point for the women’s rights movement that fought vigorously against social and cultural practices based on male domination. The six-story Korea YWCA building, located just across from Myeongdong Cathedral, is the home of Korea’s first women’s organization as well as the headquarters of 50 member offices nationwide. The entrance features a statue portraying the three founding members (three women each holding a lute, perfumed oil, and torch, which are an objectification of the YWCA values of intelligence, virtue, and physique). The Korea YWCA building is also called the Esther Park Memorial Hall, named after Esther Park, who devoted herself to gathering overseas support for Korea and was a famous early civilian diplomat. Except for the first and second floors (which are used as offices), the rest of the building is rented to outside organizations, a step that freed the Korea YWCA from its long-standing financial problems. The Korea YWCA has been a leader of change for women and vulnerable social groups through various activities, including rural enlightenment and revisions of Korea family law. Just as early Korean women leaders did at its founding, the Korea YWCA’s next 100 years will be guided by a new vision.