A good friend of mine decided after a decade that he’d had enough of Korea and wanted to go home. That seems to happen a lot I’ve noticed. Most foreigners tend to stay a year or two, have a bit of fun, pay off some university debts then leave. Others stay, and many tend to go slightly nuts at the ten-year mark (I think it may be a psychological thing – like, ‘where the hell did ten years go!?’). Those who comfortably clear a decade seem to become fully-fledged lifers.
Anyway, my friend convinced his Korean wife to make the move back to Canada. He did all the right things. He completed an MBA before leaving, to enhance his job prospects, and wasn’t greatly concerned for his wife, who’s a hard worker and speaks fluent English and Mandarin in addition to her native Korean.
They went back to Canada. It was not what he had expected. After several months trying and failing to find suitable work, he contacted a friend who is the assistant manager of a local bank. Armed with his MBA, and the recommendation of his friend he applied for a position at the bank. The assistant manager was shocked to find out that our mutual friend had not even been contacted for an interview.
After doing a bit of research, it turned out that the bank’s underwriters (and assumedly most other Canadian financial institutions) wouldn’t even look at him because he now officially appears to have less than two years of residency in his home country. He was told that at some stage (after being out of the country for an extended number of years), the government wipes the slate clean, meaning my friend has very little official history in Canada.
Further to this, Canada does not recognise my friend’s ten years of credit history in Korea, meaning that at the age of forty and armed with a Canadian credit card less than two years old, the Canadians do not have a long enough sample of his credit to determine whether or not he is a credit risk (meaning he probably is…)
Further to this again, he is still attempting to get his government to recognise his High School Diploma, because though he completed his schooling on a Canadian army base in Germany (which was recognised), he cannot now get a government job because his Diploma was issued in his shortened name (by which he goes), rather than the more formal version of his name (the one attached to his Social Security number), and nobody can do anything to correct this oversight because the army base in Germany was closed in the mid-nineties.
My friend’s recent message to me was this…
‘Next time you hear some goof loud-mouthing about “Korean bureaucracy, blah-blah-blah, whinge-whinge…”, punch them in the face for me. We’re just as bureaucratic and incompetent in the west, and the shittiest part is, the Canadian civil servants can’t even be bribed (at least not on my income)’ 🙂 …
It’s getting’ rough out there folks.