It’s Getting Tougher out There

Ohh, Caaa-na-daaaaa...

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.

Ohh, Caaa-na-daaaaa…


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.


  1. It’s hard going back home, even harder when your government doesn’t bother to let you know that this is what happens if you stay out for so long.

  2. And dude, you are merely scratching the surface here. It’s much worse that that. It kinda reminds me of the simpsons, when Homer goes in for a bank loan, and the guy looking over his credit check says: “It also says that you once grabbed a dog by the hind legs and pushed him around like a vacuum cleaner.”
    And Homer says: But that was in the third grade.” And the bank guy says, “Yeah, but it all goes on your permanent record.”

    There must be some sense of perverse satisfaction in following bureaucratic rules for these kinds of things, because a lot of these people are either unable to unwilling to help you or even consider things with a modicum of common sense. Remind me to tell you of how I lost my military pension (the notice that my pension was being revoked was sent to my last unit in Ontario, where I hadn’t been since LEAVING THE ARMY in 1995. Despite the fact that my pension cheques followed me to BC for the 5 years I lived there, and then to my parents house in Alberta for 8 of the 10 years was in Korea.) I was actually able to meet with a military lawyer to appeal my case after it had been settled, only to have the guy fail to understand why a letter sent to my old unit 13 years after my discharge was never responded to. Of course, his position was to deny me the pension, but still, there was no semblance of understanding why I was so angry and frustrated by the situation. I guess they gotta make room to deny all our new Afghan veterans their benefits, so they had to get me out of the system. So if anyone asks you how much a left ankle is worth to the canadian formed arses (oops, canadian armed forces) the answer is $972.86/yr times thirteen years (although i think it went up from a smaller amount in the 90’s).

    Or I can tell you about how I failed the criminal record check for the BC provincial government because during the hiring process, the hiring guy took a vacation, everything went on hold for the time he was gone, and when he came back to proceed with my application, my criminal record check from Korea was no longer valid. (6 month validity, missed it by a couple of weeks, however, if the process wasn’t halted, it would have made it under the cutoff.) He simply said: just get a new one. So I couldn’t afford to fly back to Korea (the Korean embassy, like Canada’s, does not issue crim record checks.) So I had to withdraw from the job competition. But somehow, it was recorded as me failing the record check, and I can no longer apply for any BC Gov’t jobs (the gov’t uses a website for all job prospects, and you have to create a profile liked to your social insurance #. Now when I log in, it just redirects me to a page which says: “Sorry, you have failed to clear a criminal record check. You are ineligible to reapply until a new record check is submitted…etc” So I cant apply for a new job, until I satisfy the condition for the old job which is no longer available. huh?

    Or I can tell you about the guy at PINE PUBLISHING GROUP in Edmonton, who insisted that Samsung was a Japanese company, and ended the interview because I was lying to him, because he KNOWS it is Japanese, not Korean as listed in my resume.

    Fuck, I could go on. But it’s not positive. One thing the MBA DID do for me, however, is give me the ability and confidence to say “fuck it” and stop looking for work from these clowns and start up my own business. I’ve worked four different (shitty) jobs so far in Canada, and I can’t get over just how incompetent and lazy most of the people here are (just doing enough to NOT get fired) and management, promoted from that same pool of fuck ups, is no better. Anyway, I’m still doing OK, and almost making enough money doing my little side job for about 6hrs a week as I was working 30-35hrs a week at minimum wage. I haven’t begun to claim that as income yet, however, as I am being audited by the Canada Revenue Agency who are currently deciding whether the $50,000 of savings I brought into Canada should be taxed as income for fiscal 2010 instead of the relocation monies I listed it as when I entered the country. Taxed at around 17% -20% (half tax is federal, half tax is provincial, hence the same income taxed twice at two rates) will be over $10,550 which we surly don’t have. Just might have to meet up with A-Town over in Saudi to get out of this one.

    That being said, it ain’t too bad here (otherwise)…good beer, great weed, other things, beautiful environment, and hina and I live literally less then 10 metres from the beach (waterview from our balcony). So it could be worse. Fruit is plentiful and cheap…what? I can get a whole watermelon for 4 bucks and not 25? 10 apples for 2 bucks, not 2 bucks each? So, trade offs.

  3. Rod the Bod,
    Your comment was longer than my post! Hey, wanna write a special-guest post or two for ol’ Peninsularity? I know you’ve got a bunch of crazy K-stories… but keep it light(ish) man, I know your style. Don’t be getting me deported now…

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