Monday, December 10, 2007

Only In Korea

Only in Korea are people so trusting that your taxi driver will jump out of the car at a red light and dash in to the convenience store on the corner.

You see traffic lights are timed badly in Korea. If you get caught at one, usually, you're waiting, waiting, and waiting. Seriously, at larger intersections, which are prone to gridlock, it can take way too many minutes to get through an intersection.

Today, I took an express bus to work and from the bus stop hailed a taxi for the short ride to my office. When it was clear the light was going to turn red, the taxi driver turned to me, pointed to something outside of the car indicating he was going to leave it, I nodded as I figured if things got weird I'd just get out of the car, and he ran off to the Family Mart convenience store on the corner.

I just thought it was so funny to be sitting in a taxi alone at a red light with the meter running. I was thinking about how that would NEVER happen in other cities simply because the taxi driver would be concerned that while he was gone the customer would take the taxi on a joy ride or the passenger would get out without paying the fare.

No such concerns here. When he got back I asked him what he bought. He smiled, told me he'd bought "cigars" and tapped his box of cigarettes. I wanted to take his picture, but I figured he might have been scared I was going to report him or that he'd get in trouble, so I didn't ask. Even without his picture this is one funny story.

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  1. Ahah! Not all foreigners are criminals! Anecdotal evidence of trust... Any chance you're on an E-2?

  2. Actually, yeah, I am. I had a dual visa up until I graduated, a D-2 (student visa) and an E-2 (language teaching visa). When I first arrived I had an E-1 and I gotta say I wish I still had that one.

    But, honestly, I'm not sweating this stupid legislation. The Korean legislature is reacting to the Chester the Canadian Molester being in Korea. As far as I know, that guy didn't have a criminal record anyway (so a criminal check wouldn't have turned anything up) and I've also heard he wasn't even on an E-2 visa. Oh, the irony of that.

    This is just a big fucking show so the legislature can show their constituents a reaction. Like other issues, the reaction is excessive and over the top. They were talking about establishing some government agency to check Korean's degrees in the wake of all those people with fake degrees being revealed. I don't think that ever took off, but Korea is xenophobic, so foreigners are getting the shaft.

    The US Embassy has a link to the Federal and state agencies that can run the reports. U.S. EMBASSY E-2 Visa INFORMATION . The reports will take weeks to get and I've heard that in the interim Korean immigration will issue a provisional visa. Plus, I go to the doctor once a month as matter of procedure. I'm an insulin dependent diabetic with a thyroid disorder. They run blood checks on me monthly and have done so for the last 4 or so years. I'll just have them run a full check when I get back from vacation in February.

    Honestly, people like to bitch and moan. And I'm not interested in the bitching and moaning over this. As soon as it was released that Chester the Molester was a teacher in Korea I knew something would come raining down on the teachers. As long as Korean immigration recognizes what a pain in the ass it will be to get the criminal checks done, the wait that will entail, and will issue provisional visas during that wait, I'm not ready to lament too much about this. I think it won't make a difference. If, however, Korean businesses whose livelihoods depend on employees with E-2 visas step up, THEN something might happen. I've heard that's already happening too:

    In fact there are so many people pissing and moaning about it, I think I'll write a new post with the US Embassy link. At least, I can help my fellow Americans. I think Canadians have a completely different deal. Honestly, a lot of Canadian teachers bug the crap out of me anyway, so fuck 'em: Hagwons, Regional Colleges Pissed at New E-2 Regulations

    Idiotic Canadian - "Oh...I bet you don't know the capital of Canada, do yah, eh?"

    ExpatJane (rolls her eyes at getting this question...again) - "Um, I do actually. It's Ottawa. You're just mad because most people in the world don't CARE to know what the capital of Canada is. Asshole."

  3. I'd be secretly pleased if the taxi driver left me in the taxi for a few minutes: I'd think it was proof that I had an honest face. For some reason, though I am generally very honest, I'm the sort of person who is always watched suspiciously by store detectives and subjected to baggage searches. It seems I look guilty.

  4. Well, I wasn't displeased. It was just odd.

    I tend to be the opposite of you. I look innocent. I know a lot of blacks in L.A. would complain that if they went to the "nice side" of L.A. (read white and upscale) that they'd get followed around the store. I don't deny this happened to them, but what I noticed is it never happened to me.

    I think it was clear to this guy that I was going to work and that I was an instructor there. I was safe and, as usual, chipper. I just think it's odd when people size you up that way because a lot of the time they can be VERY wrong. This is particularly true if it's someone who is out to cheat or steal. That person, if they're smart, will try to pass themself off as trustworthy.

  5. Well, my comment was intended to be a bit sarcastic as really, it's not always easy to know until you talk to someone what visa they're on, and it doesn't have much bearing on them as a person, just what they have permission to do while they're here.

    And as for the hullabaloo? I'm with ya. And I try not to be an asshole ;)

  6. Yeah, I figured you were, but people would run a web search, find my blog, see that I'm here and, believe me, I'd get emails. I decided to nip that all in the bud by looking up info on it.

    People are whining about this merely because they can. I had a conversation with a co-worker, and, while I like her, the information she told me was WRONG. I don't deal in wrong information for long. I looked it up and emailed her the correct info. While I was at it, I decided to post a new blog so that everyone could have it.

    Background checks are common. People who want to adopt foreign children and bring them to the USA have to do it. I'm SURE Korea required that for adoptions way back when (from what I've heard they've stopped foreign adoption now but it's not like the establishment hasn't dealt with them before.) Honestly, it's about time. It just might shake out people here who do have criminal records and I do fear that the health check would unfairly weed out those with HIV/AIDS. But, I'm sorry, I do know stories about irresponsible foreginers knowing full well they have some sort of venereal disease rolling around with the locals like it's no big thing. THAT'S CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR IN THE STATES. The story I know is about was an American woman.

    Anyway, people are pissing and moaning just to fill the air. I didn't want it coming here. I just shut it down because if I want that I'll head to a bar full of silly language teachers and can have my fill of it.

    So I get you were joking but the web searches that bring people to this blog are many. The emails I get from time to time are usually from people who need help on something, so I just posted the info I'd found.

    It's standard. People with E-2s need to comply or pack up and move somewhere else. Maybe the law will fade away, but maybe it won't. That will be up to Korean citizens to take their issues with the law to their legislature.

    However, the more I think about it, the more I think it should stay to weed out some of the fools who get hired to teach English here. It should be clear, I don't have much love for most expat English teachers I've met.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.