"I have also taken account of the provisions of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. I consider that refusing this application is justified and proportionate in the exercise of the immigration control. I note that refusing this application will not interfere with family life, for the purposes of Article 8 (1), which you can enjoy in Korea".
- British Embassy, Seoul
And just like that my wife was refused entry to the UK and the British Government effectively exiled me to Korea for the rest of my life. No, you don't know the full story - there's just too much of this farce to tell here - but when I tell you that one of the reasons for refusal was that the officer making the decision concluded that we didn't intend to settle in the UK (what?!), then you may gain an insight into the utter absurdity with which my entire life has been turned on its head. Not that I played any part in it because I was not part of the process. I thought as a British citizen I had the right to reside in my own country with my wife and come and go as I pleased. Well I don't.
Earlier in the day we'd dropped by Korean Mother's apartment and discovered that she was with Psychic Aunt, preparing food for offerings in an afternoon prayer session which they'd hired a special room for at a temple. They were praying that we would receive a favourable judgement from the Embassy, which was pretty selfless of them since all other things being equal they would much prefer that my wife stays in Korea. Of course, they want her to be happy, and they want me to be happy, and they know it can't be very pleasant getting told by your own government that you have to live in a different country. The fact is I've been pretty down since returning from Seoul because when I heard how the interview was conducted I had a strong sense of where this was going, no matter how hard it was to believe. So for once, Psychic Aunt's attempts to cheer me up with her bizarre and simply indescribable dancing met with nothing more than a forced smile from me.
We got the letter by courier late afternoon - can you believe that after the non-refundable 950,000 won (about £506 - yes over five hundred pounds - say it slowly and let it sink in) application fee (for a form and my wife's twenty minute interview) they actually made the 3,000 won courier charge payable cash on delivery by us. (edit: the next day, they sent the passports which turned out to be missing from the first envelope, pay-on-delivery, costing us another 3,000 won). Then we had to phone Korean Mother and tell her to stop praying because it hadn't worked.
So with the monsoon rains fitting my mood this evening, I'll sit here reading stories of foreigners attacking Koreans, and Koreans attacking foreigners, contemplating the wider world's growing propensity towards nationalism and wondering what my future - a future stuck in Korea - holds. It's not that Korea is a terrible place - I've had fun here - but I want to be able to go home. I'm still not sure the enormity of this situation has sunk in.
Korean keywords: 정부, 대사관, 망명자, 불교, 영국