Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Landed, Part 2

I've more or less established myself in Bundang. Unfortunately, as it's only my first full day here, I lack an alien card and am thus barred from important things like a phone or my own internet. (People in Bundang are much smarter about WEP-encrypting their connections, and I ironically need an Internet connection to get the WEP-cracking program I would normally use. =P) At least I still have a bank account and debit card!

So happy birthday to me, I get to spend it in this PC-bang and then at the hospital and then (maybe) training.

Bundang is definitely a bit more happening than the sleepy old 'bu. Which isn't necessarily a good OR bad thing. Just different. It will take some adjustment.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I am in the midst of getting my E-2 sorted for re-entry into the ROK. Everything was going swimmingly (if at that sleepy pace one is accustomed to when dealing with bureaucracies) until today.

Visa issuance number, passport, and photo in hand, I went wide-eyed to the consulate general in NYC, eager for the piece of paper in my passport that would unlock the doors of the world—or at least of the Land of the Morning Calm. Finally! I thought to myself. No more waiting! No more nail-biting! I can get my ticket and finish my packing and maybe make some last-minute visits!

All of those hopes and dreams were dashed in one fell swoop after I pushed my papers through the little document slot. In one simple word.

"Transcript?" the ajumma behind the window asked me, in a thick Korean accent.


"I was told I didn't need it," I stammered, which was the truth. I had asked multiple recruiters if I still needed a transcript and they assured me that with the new E-2 rules, I didn't. That the apostille-certified copy of my diploma would suffice.

"No, no. No more interviews. Just transcripts now." To her credit, the ajumma dealing with me went to work clipping and gluing my photo and was generally patient and as helpful as she could be. She confirmed my visa issuance number and told me that I could leave everything there, and they would grant the visa if I could fax them my transcript, and that everything would be ready a full 24 hours after they received the transcript.

I canceled the afternoon appointment I had made with a friend so I could get back home in time to fax off transcript request forms and make some calls before offices closed at 4 pm. And as I pushed buttons through the consulate's phone tree, the recorded message informed me that I did indeed need my transcript.

Oh. Great.

Only I had never bothered calling the consulate directly before then because everything I could find on the website seemed to point to only needing money and a photo. I've decided to do something productive and potentially helpful with my rage and frustration and embarrassment, and as such here is an incomplete collection of notes that I would have found very useful 24 hours ago.


  • You no longer need your transcripts to acquire the visa issuance number, but apparently you do need a copy to actually acquire the physical visa itself. What you no longer need is an interview. (NB maybe you can circumvent this by bringing your diploma with you, if what they're after is proof of your education. I might try this tomorrow.)

  • Special note to those of you serviced by the consulate in NYC (which would be: the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware): there are two locations in NYC, one near the UN and one on Park Avenue. The office at Park Avenue is the one that handles the visa processing. (I made this mistake the first time I applied for the E-2.)

  • I've seen some recruiters list letters of recommendation as necessary paperwork. Neither time have I needed those, and my guess is that they are for the schools and not for the Ministry of Justice (which handles visa applications).

  • The consulate in NYC will accept transcripts from universities by fax, so fortunately that cuts down on mailing time and costs if you find yourself in a bind like me. No word on if they accept the transcripts by fax from you.

  • If you have to leave your passport at the consulate, you may enlist the help of a trusted assistant to pick it up (in lieu of shelling out the money for a courier, or risking your passport in the mail). So long as they have the receipt issued to you upon the deposit of your passport, the consulate will give it to them.

  • If you need to call the consulate for any reason, you will default to a phone tree. But as of this writing (June 2011), the "press 0 to get a human" trick still works on their phone system. You'll probably get connected to someone who doesn't speak English well, but they will connect you to someone a bit more capable in the language.

  • The fee is $45 (at least for the E-2, I saw other numbers floating around the website).


Had I been thorough in my planning, I would have called the number listed on the site and found out through the phone tree that I still needed a copy of my transcript. (I would have Googled, too, but a post-visit Google search was fruitless so it wouldn't have helped me any.)

Had the Korean Consulate's website not been a useless monstrosity of fluff, tiny text, Konglish, and animated everything, I would have also found out that I needed a copy of my transcript.

I will own up to bad planning, but I believe web designers should also own up to poor design. Hence my challenge:

If you can find, on this Korean consulate's website, a clear and concise list of the documents necessary for the E-2 (specifically where it explicitly mentions a college transcript), I will buy you dinner. Seriously. Should I lose, it will be a humbling experience for me, but it will also be extremely helpful for other people navigating this international job hunt process. Should I win, I get to feel really smug and slightly vindicated. Basically, there's no losers with this contest!

  1. To qualify for the dinner, you must email me (should be on my blogger profile) a link to the page in question, as well as a description of the search path you used to find it. (As in: "The Immigration tab, and then the Visa bullet point..." etc.) If there is no search path description, it doesn't qualify. (This is to help me verify that you found it organically, and didn't get lucky with Google or knowledge of some direct link.)
  2. It must be from the Korean consulate English website here: Korean consulate. Answers from recruiter's websites, Dave's, and assorted expats-in-Korea communities, while helpful, are not valid to win the dinner because the point is to prove how utterly useless Korean web design typically is. (However, the best of the helpful links will also be posted when I announce the winner, so others will still benefit from the fruits of your labor!) I will accept other websites if and only if the above Korean consulate links to them.
  3. Contest ends July 31st in Korea. Americans, this means you're at a disadvantage. Sorry.
  4. Please put "blog contest" in the title of the email, that way I can find it easily!
  5. The search has to be conducted in English. First time teachers probably don't speak Korean and mine's way too awful to navigate a government webpage. Or any webpage.


  1. The contest is open to anyone but I can only offer dinner compensation to people in or near Seoul—basically, if you are serviced by Seoul metro, I will hunt you down and buy you food.
  2. Food offer is good for: gimbap holes-in-the-wall and sandwich shops; sit-down galbi, samgyeopsal, duck, hot-pot, barbecue, boshintang, gobchang gui, etc. joints. Or something Western. Or Indian or Uzbek or whatever tickles your fancy. Just some place you would be willing to pay for on your own. In other words, please don't try to bankrupt me. ^^ But the dinner bill will also include the drinks as well!
  3. In lieu of buying you dinner due to geographical constraints, I will donate the dinner equivalent to a charity of your choice. Aww, warm fuzzies!
  4. If more than one person submits a winning answer, the first answer received gets a dinner. Maybe other respondents will get some soju or cash money from me. I don't know. I'll decide later.

Go to! Winner—assuming there is one, between what I believe is the Herculean nature of the task and my absolutely non-existent readership—will be announced August 1.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Autism in South Korea Skyrocketing?

Study suggests autism is diagnosed more frequently in South Korea than in the US.

South Korea just sent autism prevalence rates surging north. Autism-spectrum disorders affect an estimated 2.64 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren, or about 1 in 38 youngsters, a new study finds.

That’s a considerably higher figure than has been reported in the United States, England and elsewhere, where prevalence estimates range from 0.07 percent to 1.8 percent. A 2006 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1 in 110 children had an autism spectrum disorder, at that time considered a surprisingly high rate.

I'm not sure what I make of this at the moment, though it's interesting food for thought.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Boys Before...Feminism

Everything I'd want to say is basically here: Why Boys Before Flowers Sets Feminism Back 20 Years at Da Hee's Plastic Castle. In a nutshell: Boys Over Flowers / 꽃보다 남자 takes a surprisingly feisty, empowered, stubborn female protagonist and turns her into a wilting delicate flower, trembling for the love of her broody, emotionally constipated man. I won't rehash everything that's wrong with the series; instead I want to know what the Korean feminist reaction to this series is.

Each person in this photo is individually responsible for setting feminism back exactly four years.

Jong-min once described feminism in Korea as "less feminism and more a special interests group for women." Since I don't have access to whatever the Korean academic world is discussing and postulating (as regards feminism or anything else) because I don't speak Korean, I can neither confirm nor deny this. All I have is Korean pop culture through the filter of white Western feminists and that's obviously going to be a whole different kettle of fish. By his account, academic feminist reaction to 꽃보다 남자 has been mostly to shrug at it, or forget the glaring issues in the story in favor of handsome curly-haired man—far from the outcry that still reverberates in Western circles as regards Twilight.

If anyone has any insight regarding the reception 꽃보다 남자 has enjoyed in the feminist circles in Korea, I'm keen to hear them. I sincerely hope that Jong-min is wrong (the only time I'd ever say that!)...but I have a sinking feeling he's not.