Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Immigration Office - Korea Style

I really think Korean Immigration gets a bad rap. Now I know people have bad experiences. In fact, I'm in the middle of one. It's not completely resolved as of yet. But the paperwork is in, the number issued, the trip is being booked and I'll be good soon. Those familiar with the process should already have an idea of what happened. However, when it is completed, I will give you the details on what went down.

One thing I had to do was go to the immigration office near Omakgyo station in Seoul a couple of weeks ago to get my current visa extended. It was the first day of Seoul Fashion Week and I needed to get across town to SETEC where it was being held. I also needed to change my insulin pump's infusion set but, for the life of me, I couldn't find my medical supplies. I'd already disconnected, so it was a major emergency as I wasn't getting any insulin (I took shots in the meantime.)

I decided to go to immigration first and then double back to pick up a box of infusion sets in person. Now I usually roll into that office with an appointment because I prefer to go in the afternoon, but due to my current status, an appointment isn't possible. Thank goodness that Dalim, the company that sells my pump supplies, is between immigration and my home.

Now being American, I still have a huge fear of dealing with civil servants. However, I went to the office around 10:00am. I took a number, went downstairs to pay the fee, was called to the window within a few minutes, got my passport stamped with an extension and was out and ready to deal with the rest of my day by 10:30am or so.

Here is a shot of how empty the office was that Monday morning:

I got a taxi to the Dalim office, went to Mike's place aka the Metropolitician and FMS, reconnected my pump, we had lunch and were en route to Seoul Fashion Week just after lunchtime.

Would a similar transaction have gone as fast in the US equivalent? I highly doubt it.

So for all the frustration that Korean immigration can and does cause, I say that the wait is light years faster. Chew on that, haters.

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