freedom isn’t free

Thursday (Korea Day 18)

The word came down from above, my medical check is in and I am deemed healthy enough to live and work in Korea. That meant Mr. Park and I had a date for the Immigration Office where I would take the next step in getting me Alien Residency Card (ARC card). The ARC card is necessary for opening bank accounts, paying bills, acquiring a cell phone… all that “big people stuff” that makes life more stressful. The office is located in Yangju which is about an hour north, essentially DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) = really close to North Korea (38th parallel). For being called demilitarized the area is ironically one of the most heavily militarized boarders in the world. Anyway it was decided Mr. Park would knock on my door at 9 am and I was to be ready with passport in-hand.

8:45 am : I am freshly showered but otherwise completely unready for the day. I hear the familiar door slam from down the hall. That means either Anna Teacher is 2 hours early for the day or Mr. Park is 15 minutes early. A knock and “Marka Teacherr” seconds later proves the latter. One second! Clothes, fast. Pound my cup of vinegar (its an oriental thing, you wouldn’t understand) backpack and sandals. Soon we are on our way in the school van but headed west, not north as I understood our destination to be. As you may remember from earlier posts Mr. Park and I are generally incapable of communication so I sit there until a motion or some words indicate otherwise. Us parking at the school indicated otherwise. Not sure what was going on, I dropped my things at my desk and welcomed the opportunity to brush my teeth. 15 minutes later Mr. Park and I are in the underground parking garage. Not finding what hes looking for we head to ground level. We are on the street corner only seconds before Teresa Teacher pulls up. Ah the old car swap. Soon we are racing northward, heavy on the gas heavy on the brake.

I learn Mr. Park is a very impatient man. No surprise given Korea is an impetuous country, but I wonder if the dense awkward silence prompts rash and hurried behavior. Four gas station stops, lots of what I presume to be quiet Korean cuss words and an hour later we arrive. Its not till Mr. Park points out the Immigration Office and I see the city name on a sign (Yangju) that I realize oddly enough this was the first place I had applied to work in Korea . For the aforementioned reasons I never intended on working there but I wanted the interview experience.

The whole process took less than 15 minutes and was rather uneventful. The most noteworthy aspect was me staring at the clock on the wall and discovering it was the Fourth of July. I thought it a bit ironic, me sitting in Korean immigration on Independence day. The biggest exchange of words on the way home was Mr. Park spotting a rather dark man crossing the road and exclaiming “Kenya!!!” while looking at me with wide eyes. I node and affirm, “Kenya”. The funny thing, I really have a feeling that man was from Kenya.

Mr. Park gets me back to school just after 11 am  – the technical start time for me everyday (in reality I am working with kids by 10). From there its a fairly short day of lessons followed by a long period of checking papers, planning lessons and grading tests. In the end I left school with Mr. Park and Anna just after 9 pm making for a 12 hour day.

Not wanting Korea to entirely take our Independence, Anna and I hiked off into the  night with a single firework in-tow (that Josh teacher had given me a week earlier). We hiked up the muddy wet trail just behind the apartment while exchanging firework stories. We found a fitness deck and lit off our firework there. It was discovered that it was of the multi-shot aerial variety, there is a photo as proof.

I wonder if I will do a fourth consecutive 4th of July abroad?


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Barb Baumgartner on July 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Happ July 4th!


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