Extra! Korea

March 27, 2009

More proof that immigration “laws” are really mild suggestions

Filed under: expatriates — extrakorea @ 12:56 pm

Any expatriate who’s dealt with Korean immigration knows that how you are treated depends upon which officer you are dealing with, what kind of mood they are in, whether or not they are tired, the quality of the lunch they ate, etc. A little more than a year ago, a colleague and I extended our visas literally within minutes of each other. We had completely different experiences because we were seen to by two different officers. Here’s more proof:

Foreign Teacher Renews Visa With No Health Checks

The Korea Immigration Service (KIS) allegedly extended an E-2 visa to an American teacher who refused to submit mandatory health checks.

Andrea Vandom, an English instructor at Chung-Ang University, visited the Suwon Immigration Office, Wednesday, to renew her status under the terms of the English-teaching visa rules.

But Vandom told The Korea Times that she had her visa extended ― even though she refused to submit papers on health checks, which are demanded under the regulations that govern the E2 visa. She only handed over criminal record documents to the authorities, she said.

This case appears to suggest that the immigration rules are being bent ― not applicable to those who complain strongly, she said.

Instead of producing documents showing HIV/AIDS and drug test results, she gave an immigration officer a letter.

It reads: “Unfortunately, I will not be submitting the HIV/ AIDS test results or the tuberculosis drug test results that you have requested. These tests unreasonably discriminate against me as a foreigner living in Korea and are a violation of my human rights.”

[ snip ]

According to Vandom, after reading the letter, the immigration official showed the letter to one of his colleagues, and then his colleague came back and said, “Last year, the law changed and you need HIV and drug tests.”

Vandom, 30, said she then replied, “I understand what you are saying,” and again directed his attention to the letter. At this point, she said, the immigration officer completed the sojourn application form and handed over her alien registration card saying “visa extension, one year.”


Macaroni Market; will it satisfy those cravings for mac’n’cheese?

Filed under: expatriates, food — extrakorea @ 3:43 am

As an expatriate who sometimes has cravings for macaroni and cheese, I find myself intrigued by a restaurant called Macaroni Market.

For me, the idea of mac ‘n’ cheese is inseparable from the image of Kraft’s $3 blue box.

So imagine my surprise when I first encountered Macaroni Market. Divided into a cafe, club and restaurant, this place doesn’t serve up your mama’s mac.

[ snip ]

But if privacy is your prime concern – hint hint to the couple making out at the table next to mine at a recent visit to another establishment – then a meal at Macaroni Market makes for a good time. Soft jazz makes the low lighting all the more cozy, and the service here is among the best that I’ve found in Korea.

The restaurant side doesn’t exactly have a wide range of entrees, but they’re awfully fancy, generally priced between 19,000 won and 49,000 won. Choices include the fish of the day, first-grade Korean sirloin (49,000 won) and the Italian-style slow-roasted pork belly (23,000 won).

I want.

Macaroni Market may be a misnomer, but having a meal here would hardly be a mistake.

Macaroni Market

English: On menu

Tel: (02) 749-9181

Address: Hannam Bldg., 2nd floor, 737-50 Hannam 1-dong, Yongsan District, Seoul

Subway: Itaewon Station, line No. 6, exit 2

Parking: Valet

Hours: For restaurant: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Tues. to Sun.; For cafe: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Tues. to Sat., till 11 p.m. Sun.

Dress: Smart

Sub-titled movies to be screened regularly from March 27

Filed under: expatriates, movies — extrakorea @ 3:29 am

Until now, Korean movies were rarely screened with English sub-titles. Usually, one had to wait for the DVD to come out. That’s set to change from March 27.

Two theaters in Seoul will be providing English subtitles to Korean movies released this year.

The service, which started this week, is available at two theaters of the local cinema chain Cinus.

One is in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, and the other in Gangnam, the southern part of the city.

[ snip ]

An opening ceremony will take place tonight [Friday, March 27] at 7:30 p.m. at Cinus Myeong-dong.

The main event will be a preview of the English-subtitled Korean movie “Private Eye.”

Read all about it, including information about how to get to the theaters, here.

March 26, 2009

Learn about temple stays

Filed under: Buddhism, culture, expatriates, travel — extrakorea @ 1:43 pm

Here’s an article about temple stays in Korea.

Poll suggests gender bias isn’t serious; harassed woman probably disagrees

Filed under: gender equality — extrakorea @ 1:39 pm

Here’s a headline and snippet from an article from the Joongang Daily:

Less than 50% think gender bias is serious

The number of people who think gender discrimination in the Korean workplace is serious has fallen below the 50 percent mark for the first time, according to an annual Labor Ministry poll.

Half of the population are women, so if a large majority of women think it’s serious, and a large majority of men don’t, you could still end up with less than 50%.

However, 57.2 percent of women polled said they thought gender discrimination is serious; 59.7 percent of men said it was not.

There you go.

This woman would probably agree that gender equality still has some distance to go.

A 28-year-old female office worker who reported a case of sexual harassment apparently received further abuse at the police station where she made the report.

A man she met on a blind date on Feb. 20 tried to force his attentions on her and when she resisted his advances, he threatened her into kissing him and swore at her. She then visited Gangnam Police Station to file a complaint over his actions.

However, she encountered further offense there. Police officers who reviewed her complaint made her agree to a settlement; one allegedly even said, “blame your beauty,” according to the woman.

A woman goes to the police, and they blame the victim. But wait, it gets even “better.”

The police told her that they needed to crosscheck the claims because they didn’t believe she was forced to kiss the man. “The man liked you so he kissed you. You know, a woman doesn’t really believe a man likes her until he kisses her. Can’t you just take his action as normal men’s behavior?” a police officer allegedly asked her, she said.

So they didn’t believe her, then described the sexual harassment as “normal men’s behavior.”

March 25, 2009

Korean children need sleep but don’t get it

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 12:31 pm

Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, and enough sleep can cut the risk of developing diabetes. However, Korean children don’t get enough of it.

March 24, 2009

Korea narrowly loses World Baseball Classic to Japan

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 2:02 pm

In a nail-biting game, Japan defeated South Korea 5-to-3 in the final of the World Baseball Classic. You can read a summary of these Asian countries’ recent baseball history here, and an article in the New York Times (courtesy of the Marmot’s Hole) about why Korea has few players in Major League Baseball. Korea has come a long way since missionaries first introduced it to the game over a hundred years ago.


There has been talk that a signal to walk Ichiro Suzuki was missed.

Did a missed sign for an intentional walk to relief pitcher Lim Chang-yong (Yakult Swallows) cost Korea the World Baseball Classic final? Or was Lim overconfident?

After losing 5-3 to Japan in the World Baseball Classic final yesterday, Korea manager Kim In-shik said, “I sent catcher Kang Min-ho a sign to walk Ichiro Suzuki (in the 10th inning). But Lim didn’t follow the sign, which resulted in the defeat, though I didn’t ask Lim why yet.”

[ snip ]

Ichiro hit the ball for the game-winning two-run double.

After the game, Lim said, “I felt I could pitch to Ichiro, but I didn’t see the sign. My last pitch was a mistake.”

Kim blamed himself, saying, “If I had sent the intentional walk sign, we wouldn’t have lost the game. I regret not doing so.”


March 23, 2009

Is frail-looking Kim Jong-il sicker than previously thought?

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea, politics, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 1:48 pm

Trying to imagine Kim Jong-il without his potbelly is like trying to picture Hitler without his cropped mustache or Osama Bin Laden without his beard, but recent photos of him, released by North Korea last Friday and appearing in a Chosun Ilbo gallery (courtesy of Korea Beat), have the world’s third-worst dictator looking gaunt within his Dr. Evil suit. Even though it’s widely believed that he recently suffered a stroke, he seems to be even sicker than previously thought.
This has raised the issue of what might happen in the event of his death. It has been reported that his youngest son, Jong-un, was being groomed to be the heir apparent. However, during recent North Korea’s recent “elections” he did not become part of the Supreme People’s Assembly, which would have been a logical first step. Andrei Lankov, an expert on Korea (read his articles here) had cautioned us not to jump to conclusions:

“[S]ome [past reports] have mentioned Kim Jong-il’s first son; they mentioned his second son; they also mentioned his brother-in-law; they mentioned his wife. There have been many rumors over the years, beginning probably in the mid-1990s. Every time, it was proven that these rumors were unfounded.”


If Jong-un has been deemed not ready to be take the reigns of power, either because he is too young or other reasons, then who would be likely to control North Korea in the event of Kim Jong-il’s death? There has been evidence that while he was recovering from his stroke, his brother-in-law, Jang Song-taek, would serve as regent and guardian of the younger Kim until he had reached sufficient maturity. Incidentally, the younger sister of Kim Jong-il to whom Jang is married to, Kim Kyong-hui, appears to be in critical condition.

March 22, 2009

Be careful of new computer virus

Filed under: technology — extrakorea @ 2:15 am

Make sure that your anti-virus software and patches are up-to-date. From the Korea Times:

New Password-Manipulating Virus Spreading

A new computer virus that attacks the computer password, manipulates and eventually blocks the user to log in to the computer is spreading, Yonhap reported Saturday.

The virus, an advanced form of “Win32.HLLW.Shadow.based” that showed up last month, locks up the computer, resulting in log in error. It also paralyzes the network by overloading the traffic on the 445 port.

A free vaccine is available on the Web site of the anti-virus company, New Technology Wave (www.viruschaser.com).

The vaccine provider also advises computer users to regularly change their computer passwords and update Windows security patches. Once infected, the virus detours the radar of the previously installed vaccine program on the computer and makes it undeletable, the company said.

March 21, 2009

Foreign laborers already facing hardships from slashed labor quotas

Filed under: economics, expatriates — extrakorea @ 12:54 pm

It has been reported here and here that the number of jobs for foreign laborers is being slashed to try to ease unemployment for Koreans. Apparently, this has already caused hardships for those foreign laborers already living here.

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