Like mold growing on a wall, so are the Korean Days of our Lives.

7 Apr

This is crazy.  The whole apartment saga is taking over my life here on the Korean peninsula.  I had many people say to me not to stress about it or that I should get used to it because this is the way that they work over here. Well our contract clearly states that we need suitable housing and a mold infested place is not even close to suitable.  So this is what went down yesterday.  After lunch my co-teacher informed me that we will go and see the principal.  Just like that.  So off we went.  In the massive office of our principal awkwardness filled the air.  It was me, my co-teacher, the big man himself and the chief administrative officer.  So there we sat and tried to solve this pain in my ass of an apartment issue!  They informed me that for me to cancel my contract and move to another apartment would incur a 600 000 won penalty fee.  My jaw dropped, because just last week it was 300 000.  Inflation must be bad in Korea.  But wait, there’s more – THEY WANT ME TO PAY THE PENALTY FEE. My jaw closed because I was clinching my teeth.  How can they expect me to pay the penalty fee if they did not even make an effort to solve any of the problems in my apartment.  So I made them understand that it is ridiculous and just completely mental to expect me to cough up the 600 000 Won.  Absurd.  They said that the school is poor and that it cannot afford to pay this money.  Not my problem.  If they couldn’t afford a native teacher then they shouldn’t have gotten one in the fist place.  They said that they will then send someone to clean the mold.  They wanted to cover it up with new wall paper.  I said that was not good enough and that they should terminate the problem completely.  I mean like get into the friggin wall and kill that shit!  So off they went in their Korean mumble jumble.  After a while they concluded that the process of de-molding my room will take 7 days minimum and, guess what, I should find a place to stay for that time.  Now people, my girlfriend and I did come to Korea together, but if we wanted to live together than we would have both taken the housing allowance or forged a marriage certificate.  We got separate apartments for a reason! I politely informed my school that it sounds perfect, just one thing, find me hotel to live in until my apartment is ready.  We came here to work as employees, not volunteers camouflaged as hippies who will settle for anything.  There are standards and contracts have been drawn up for a reason.  If this was to happen in South Africa my Union would be down my school’s throat by now!  So after I dropped the hotel bomb, there was a lengthy, awkward silence followed by some laughter.  Not funny ha-ha laughter but more like ha ha – this waegook must be mental if he thinks we are gonna put him up in a hotel.  Then more silence.  My co-teacher translated the only sentence the principal uttered in what seems like forever: “There is no solution to this problem”.  Oh wonderful, I love problems without solutions!  Then some more silence. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Then the principal announced something that almost caused the chief administration officer’s eyes to pop out.  He said that the school will go and look for a new apartment today!  So this excruciating pain on my stomach I had for the past week was all for nothing.  Turns out the problem did have a solution after all.  So ate 3.30 pm my co-teacher, myself and the administration lady went apartment hunting.  Not so much hunting as the we found this one so take it or leave it.  The apartment is about 10 minutes further away from school and Nicola’s apartment.  But its in much better condition.  To start off with there is no stinky Chinese restaurant on the ground floor.  The apartment is on the second floor and it is almost twice the size to what I have now.  So I checked everything out and was very happy.  Even if I have to walk a bit earlier to school I still don’t have to take the bus!  But then I opened my mouth.  Sometimes I must just learn to shut up.  As there is currently still someone living in the apartment I asked about the furniture.  They said that it belonged to the current occupant but informed me that all the furniture in my apartment belongs to my school.  So, no problem.  Until they discovered that there is no refrigerator in the new apartment and the one in mine belongs to the owner of the apartment.  So my poor school first had to discuss finances before they make a decision.  So yesterday I didn’t get my hopes up because I knew something, somewhere will go wrong.  So pessimistic, I know!

So this morning I came to school and was informed that I will be moving sometime next week BUT (and there’s always a but), I have to pay 50 000 won a month management fee to the building.  Now I know that all utilities must be covered by the employee but this 50 000 is on top of regular gas and electricity.  The building was very clean and compared to what I have now that’s not too bad.  In the back of my mind I cannot help but think that maybe, and just maybe that 50 000 will go towards the school to make up for the cancellation fee.  Oh well!  So hopefully by next week I will be out of my dodgy Korean Alley!


4 Responses to “Like mold growing on a wall, so are the Korean Days of our Lives.”

  1. Janiele April 7, 2010 at 18:22 #

    Hi boetie

    Wil net gou jou blog join.

  2. Brittney April 8, 2010 at 08:59 #

    “Volunteers camouflaged as hippies,” love it.

    Glad to see things are starting to get sorted!

  3. kaalvoetinireen April 25, 2010 at 22:31 #

    The 50 000 levy is charged at some apartment buildings. It’s for the maintenance of the complex.

  4. Stephannie April 30, 2010 at 01:33 #

    check with your contract to see if maintenance fees comes under utility or apt costs. And you are very well within your rights to scrutinize any “fees” ~ most folks dont know this, but the public schools’ accounting systems dont allow for the different calculations for foreign payroll. Often the NET’s pay is sent to the principal who then rolls it over into the NET’s bank account. The Korean national tax service has a site in English where you can enter in your payroll stats to see if the correct amount is being taken out for your taxes. It’s also a good idea to check on your pension amounts.
    BECAREFUL in checking this intel… you’re already a “troublemaker” so you’ll need to be a bit clever & passive in checking over these figures.

    even though it’s the employer’s responsibility to file the employee’s income taxes (Jan 15) any mistakes will cost the employee. This would affect you down the line should you stay in Korea longer than your one year indentured service.

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