Sunday, May 28, 2006

Immigration Office in Busan

I seem to be living at the Immigration Office in Busan these days. Because an E-2 Visa [Conversational English Teacher] is linked to one location and I am working for one owner but at three different locations I keep having to go to the Immigration Office and change my Visa for each separate location.

Each time I go I have to have someone Korean [from my school] go with me with lots of papers and the school stamps and Business Licenses, etc. And, every time there seems to be a million questions. They certainly make it complicated and frustrating for people who choose to work legitimately and legally.

For whatever reason I could not just alter my working Visa to include the two other schools in one trip. Instead I had to alter it for one school and then later go back and alter it again. If I never see the Immigration Office again it will be too soon.

But all this running has made me a pro at finding my way to the office and figuring out the sometimes confusing and always lengthy procedures. So, let me give to some information on how the how to navigate your way to the Immigration Office.

First, get on the subway [the orange line].

Get off the subway at stop # 112 Jung-an-dong.

Go to exit # 10 and follow the sign for the "Busan Immigration Office".

Other along the way will see more signs showing you the way to the "Busan Immigration Office". In Korea it is called "Busan Chul Ip Kuk Gwan Ri Sa Mu So". 부산 출입국관리 사무소 [사무소 "sa mu so" means office.]

Ahead you will see an archway that leads to the International Ferry Terminal. Go through the archway and turn immediately sharply to your right.

There is the Immigration Office.

The Immigration Office is on the second floor through the main doors. But for everything you do there you must buy "Revenue Stamps" in the amount required for the service you require. For example the fee for an Alien Card in 10,000 won whereas the fee for a multi entry visa is 30,000 won and the fee to alter your employment location is 60,000 won. If you don't know the amount you go upstairs to the main office and on the wall is a large sign in English and Korean that tells the price of the various services.


To get an Alien Card takes two weeks and to get an "alteration" of your Visa takes one week. There is a new service [or at least it is new to me] offered at the Immigration Office called "Take Back" which seems to be Konglish for "courier service". If you fill out a paper [that sits at the express desk and there's a sign that says "Express Service"] you can get them to deliver your passport and Alien Card to you in Busan. The fee is 5,000 won but it's a real bonus in time and energy for people like me who would do anything NEVER to see the Immigration Office again.


The phone number for the Busan Immigration Office is (051) 461-3010. They speak English, at least some, so call them if you have questions.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

New Furniture

Well, I finally got some new furniture for my apartment and I couldn't be happier. A Korean friend and I went shopping in Jwacheon-dong the area of Busan that sells furniture and we found a "discount" furniture shop. We went in and with my friend translating and I was able to order some furniture and arrange to have it delivered.

This was on a Saturday and the delivery was arranged for the following Tuesday morning [since I don't work mornings] and would be home to accept delivery. I paid half the money down and got a receipt and paid the remainder when the furniture was delivered.

What many people don't realize about Korea is that there are not really street names and building numbers. So having anything delivered or giving someone your address involves drawing a map and using a lot of landmarks. Luckily, I am near MegaMart a huge department store in Dongnae, Busan so if I use that and the Dongnae Subway station and my school [school X] as landmarks most everyone can find my building. I can even draw and label a map to my apartment in Korean.

My New Chair
This is my new chair. I bought two of these and a glass-topped kitchen table and luckily the price included delivery, too. I've sunk so much into this apartment already that every penny [or should I say won] hurts.

My New Bed Frame
I bought a frame for my bed. As, I mentioned before I just can't get used to sleeping on the floor. I don't like it. I had the matress already as it came with the apartment. The bed frame is only lamanated plywood and it cost around 150,000 won [about $ 180.00 Canadian]. But for me it was well worth the cost. The pollution is so bad here that over night a dust settles on everything including the floor and with my head so close to the floor I wake up coughing and with a sore throat. [I can tell the purchase of a vacuum cleaner and some bags are in my near future].
One thing I had forgotten to do was measure the matress and so I had to get my friend to help me buy a tape measure and then later measure the matress and then call the company and tell them the exact size of the matress so that they knew which size bed frame to deliver. It turns out I have the smallest matress made. It is a single and not even a twin or super single.

My New Mink Blanket
I bought a new "mink" blanket for my bed. A mink blanket is a warm, soft, fuzzy blanket that is popular for tourists to buy when they visit Korea. I found this one on Texas Street. Texas Street is a foreigner street located across from Busan Train Station. It mainly Russian and has a lot of bars and nightclubs but it does have some souvenir shops and some shops that sell some of the "black market" foreign foods Westerners crave like canned corned beef and Cheese Whiz.

My New Table
This is a picture showing my new table with the microwave [ithe microwave was actually provided by my school] and my toaster oven which my friend, Ray, had stored for me while I was in Canada. I recently went to Ulsan and got the things he had so graciously stored for me the entire 10 months I was home in Canada.


Well, that's my new home in Korea. It is so much more comfortable now. I spent a forture getting it fixed up especially since I have only received one pay check since arriving in Korea. [In Korea you get paid monthly and on the 10th of each month]. But, it is at the beginning when I need the comfort the most. It is then that I feel the most homesick and am the most apt to experience culture shock. Also, by buying all these things now I can get the most use out of them before having to think about selling, moving or storing them. Or at least that is the way I am choosing to look at it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Korean Food

I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Korean food. When I arrived in Korea for the first time a few years ago - I discovered that although I like spicy food what I consider spicy food and what Korean people consider "spicy" are two entirely different things. I like Tex-Mex food and spicy chili but I don't like red pepper paste. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the fundamental ingredients in Korean food seems to be red pepper paste and chili flakes.

I quickly learned to ask "매 워요"? [May why oh?] "Is it spicy?" of Korean people and if they said "네" [nay] "yes" or "조금" [Cho-gum] "a little" I learned to avoid that food like the plaque.

I used to watch the Korean cooking shows and I'd see them making what looked to be a lovely dish but as a final step they would add a cup of red pepper paste or a cup of chili flakes and then I would turn the TV off in disgust. Since for me they would have just ruined the wonderful fresh vegetables by burying the taste under spices that burn the tongue and make you sweat and your nose run.

That said there are a few Korean foods that are spicy that I actually enjoy eating.

This is a photo of Dduck-boo-key. It is rice cake and pressed fish in a red pepper sauce. It is a favorite food of children. They buy it in paper cups and eat it with a toothpick. Street vendors always seem to sell it near schools and private academies and they do a brisk business with the children. A cup of it costs about 500 won [or about 50 cents Canadian]. It is very spicy but quite delicious and filling.

Dwegi-guk-bok - Pork Soup
One other Korean food that I enjoy is called Dwegi-kuk-bop. It is a soup made from thin slices of pork and it has rice and sometimes noodles in it. It is a wonderful food to eat in the winter and, also, when you have a cold. It is spicy and makes your nose run so it sure does help clear up the sinuses.

In Korea there are always a lot of side dishes when you order food. At the top of this picture is Kim-chi [the national dish of Korea]. It is fermented cabbage in a hot red pepper paste. Imagine sour kraut with a hot red pepper paste on it. Next [the square shaped food with the red/orange sauce] is ggag-du-gi. It is a radish kimchi. On the left is something that looks like grass but is actually called jeong-gu-ji. It looks like some kind of edible grass to me and when mixed into pork soup it serves to add color and fiber to the soup.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pet Peeve

I enjoy living in Korea for the most part and I never want my blog to be one of those ones you read and think "Why do they stay there if they hate it?" But that said there are a few things that really bug me about Korea. I know that in comparison to world peace the things that bother me are only small and of no real consequence but still sometimes they grate on my nerves and like every other blogger I feel the need to vent.

In Korea my pet peeve involves a large number [a majority it seems] of Korean women and their shoes. The first part of my beef is that a lot of Korean women wear high heels EVERYWHERE. And, I do mean everywhere. I've even seen some women trying to climb mountains in their spike heels. They wear heels even with jeans or leggings and even with ragged jeans. See the photo with this posting if you need to see an example of this.

Eastern Asia and China in particular have a long history of women suffering foot pain and damage for fashion and looking at Korean women whining and mincing around in their shoes makes me feel that those days are not in the distant past. I know that I can't truly compare Chinese foot-binding to Korean women wearing high heels but there are some similarities. Both result in women suffering pain for fashion.

But that's not the most important part of my pet peeve. The thing that bugs me the most is that so many Korean women don't wear the strap on their sandals. They just shove their feet in their shoes and just let the heel strap flap in the air. It looks so messy and lazy. It makes me go crazy wondering "Why do they wear high heels to look good and then make it look messy and ugly by letting the strap flap around like that?" I just can't figure it out. Do they think it looks good? Is it because their feet hurt and they want to wiggle them around in their shoes? Is it just laziness? Koreans take off their shoes to enter houses and even some restaurants do they just get so used to kicking their shoes on and off that they no longer bother with the straps?

I don't know. As you can see I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and trying to figure it out. And, still I am no closer to an answer than when I first began. If any one can help enlighten me then please send me your comments. I'll post them. I am hopeful someone can help me solve this puzzle.

Strap-less Sandle

I took this picture on Saturday, May 6th, 2006 in Youngsan Electronics Market in Seoul, South Korea. The woman walking ahead of me was walking very slowly and lagging behind her friends and slowing down the people walking behind her [me included]. As you can see her left leg is lifted as she tries to adjust her shoe to make it more comfortable [or so I assume] but she still doesn't try to put the straps around her ankle and heel for extra support.

Also, she is wearing leggings and a ragged jean shirt so I am left wondering why she is wearing high heeled sandals in the first place. Heels don't exactly go with her outfit.