Perhaps you have decided to do a closet cleaning to rid yourself of your rarely worn clothes, recently read Marie Kondo’s best selling book and have been inspired to throw out everything that does not spark joy, or are simply moving back to your country and can not fit all of your purchases into your suitcases! Whatever the case may be, you find you suddenly have bags of clothing you no longer have use for but are still in wearable condition. What to do?
In the past, there used to be only a couple options for ridding yourself of unwanted clothing, common routes included putting them in your neighbourhood used clothing bin, giving to a friend, or simply throwing them away. These days, however, there are many organizations that exist to help you donate clothing you no longer have use for and ensure that someone else gets to enjoy an item that once brought you joy! Take a look at the suggestions below for what to do with your used clothing in South Korea.
Donation is the best way to ensure a second life for your used clothing! There are organizations located all over Seoul and other major cities in South Korea where you can donate your used clothing that will help ensure that your donations will be rescued by people within Korea. Below is a list of some well-known organizations within South Korea.
Goodwill Store is a well known American charity that has locations all over Seoul and only accepts direct donations. Every item donated to Goodwill is documented and priced to meet the needs of low-income households, and all of their profits go back into running the business. They also provide work opportunities for North Korean refugees and those who are mentally or physically challenged. If you are not able to physically go to the store to drop off your clothing, they will come to you and pick it up.
Goodwill has locations in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, as well as in Jeonju, Daejeon, Guri, and Changwon. A full list of locations can be found on their Korean website here, and a list of donation center contact numbers can be found here, under ‘기증문의’. If you are located in Seoul, there is a donation bin located inside Itaewon Global Village Center and Yeoksam Global Village Center.
Another option for donation is Beautiful Store, a large non-profit organization that also only accepts direct donations and has locations all around Seoul. Beautiful Store also sells its products at a low cost and directs all its profits back to running their organization.
Like Goodwill Store, they will come to you if you are unable to drop off your clothing donations. Beautiful Store has an English version of their website which you can access here, as well as the option of registering a donation online! You can find a list of their stores here.
Otcan is another company that handles clothes donations in Korea. They are based in the city Daejeon, but have services that allow you to mail your donations or use their pickup services! You can find a link to their website here.
Salvation Army stores in South Korea are called 구세군 희망나누미 (gusegun huimang nanumi). The Salvation Army provides a variety of different services in Korea, including clothing donation. Their Korean website can be found here, and the English version of their website can be found here. They also have a list of their store locations in both Korean and English, as well as a blog, Facebook account, and Instagram page!
Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) is a charity that among other things, sends clothes to China for North Korean refugees. They are located in Seoul near Seodaemun station (subway line 5 exit 2). Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights was founded in 1996 and is the world’s oldest NGO Devoted exclusively to North Korean human rights. In addition to accepting clothing donations, NKHR provides reliable assistance to North Korean refugees hiding in third countries, offers resettlement programs for North Korean youth in South Korea, and works to raise awareness about North Korean human rights violations, the situation of North Korean refugees, and the resettlement process of North Koreans within South Korea. You can find more information on their Korean website here, and on their English website here.
Korean Unwed Mothers Families Association (KUMFA) is an organization that advocates for the rights of unwed mothers and their children in South Korea. KUMFA’s goal is to help give Korean women access to sufficient resources and support to thrive in Korean society. KUMFA accepts clothing donations, especially for babies and children. You can find more information on their website here.
If you have clothing that was only worn a couple of times and is in excellent condition, or is a higher-priced designer item or well-known brand, consider re-selling it through the popular app Karrot Market (당근마켓). This app is similar to Craigslist or Ebay in North America and works as a platform where you can list your lightly used items for resale. Simply post a photo and some information and wait for buyers to contact you! You can download their app for IOS here and for Android here.
Smith Market sells previously worn designer clothes, shoes, bags that are in good condition at a fraction of their retail price. You can check their website here for an updated view of their selection of items. If you have designer items you are looking to donate, they might be interested in buying them from you! You will need to speak Korean however to communicate with them, so if you are not familiar with the Korean language, consider having a friend help you!
The easiest and possibly most widely known way of disposing of old clothing is by donating them in the green, brown, blue or gray donation boxes (의류수거함) that can be found in every neighborhood in cities all over South Korea. However, the reason this option is categorized as a recycling option and not a donation option is because often the contents of these boxes do not end up with Korean families.
There are no standardized rules for what happens to the contents of these boxes. In Seoul for example, each district office (gu-cheong) is responsible for drafting their own policy, and in many cases, these boxes are not operated directly by the local government.
As a result, the clothing left in these donation boxes is often sold to developing regions in places like Africa and Southeast Asia.