Monday, November 22, 2010

Hurry up and wait!

One of the most frustrating things I found when preparing to come to Korea was the "hurry up and wait" and "hurry hurry" mentality that seems to infect Korea. Things tend to get left undone and there isn't a lot of communication. Then everything becomes a great rush with a lot of stress. What brought this to mind was talking with a reader through email about the stress he is going through getting ready to go and work in Korea.

He found a hagwon that looked good a couple of months ago. Emails were exchanged and a month ago they said they wanted him. They want him to start in late December, after the 20th. Then, nothing. He would email asking what documents he needed to get for them and heard nothing. After a couple of weeks, last week, he got an email letting him know some of the documents he needed and telling him they would send him a list in a few days. That was a week ago and he hasn't heard anything. Hence his complaining.

He wanted to know if the were jerking him around and what the chances are of actually getting to Korea in the time frame they said they wanted him.

I don't think he is being jerked around per se. This is typical for dealing with Koreans. Hurry up and wait. Then everything is "bally bally" or rush rush. Lots of last minutes stress and frustration. I ran into this with hagwons and I ran into it with EPIK. It is completely unprofessional but that seems to be the norm when dealing with South Korea.

It is getting down to crunch time for him if they REALLY want him there around the time frame stated. He has to get his documents together and courier them to South Korea. That can take anywhere from a few days to a week. Then they have to put everything together and submit the paperwork to Immigration. That can take a few days to a week or more. Then the Work VISA paper has to be couriered back to him. Then he has to send it to the nearest Korean Embassy for the VISA stamp on his passport. Will they want an interview? Then they have to send it back. THEN he can legally go work in South Korea. (I say legally because I wouldn't be surprised if the hagwon asked him to come at the original time with NO VISA saying he can get it later.) He is looking at a three week period at least with all the couriering. It is getting to the point where the time frame is not realistic.

That doesn't mean he won't get there. It just means it won't be when he expected. And it will probably be a stressful and frustrating rush at the last minute. Which is par for the course when dealing with Koreans.


  1. A 'can do' attitude, with a 'that will do' approach.

    I can't remember where I heard that...but that's how Korea feels to me.