Saturday, August 04, 2007

Office Space

"Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work." - Albert Einstein

Since the Seoul trip and the British Embassy's rejection of my wife's visa application I've spent most of my available time during the last two weeks dealing with the fallout from this, reading laws, reading rules, talking to lawyers and a lot of other people, and generally preparing our appeal against the decision. It's a process sufficiently complex that I've taken to modelling it FreeMind.

Back in the UK I used to work from home sometimes and had a small office set up, but in Korea we aren't equipped to deal with the bureaucracy which develops from dealing with the bureaucracy of others - so as the need to print, photocopy and scan certain documents has emerged we've found ourselves begging from friends or improvising solutions at short notice. Yesterday we needed some documentation from the British Embassy, but they don't answer enquiries over the phone. Emails take "up to three weeks" to answer (or possibly longer in our experience), and if you want a question or request dealt with more quickly you have to send a fax. We tried phoning anyway but got the usual response, so part of our morning was spent going to the only local PC Bang that can print things out and then a local post office where domestic-only faxes can be sent. Because the Embassy may reply by fax (or maybe they'll post it to us postage-paid-on-delivery by the addressee which is what they've done with some other documents) we had to find a friend with a fax machine who could receive any response for us.

With finally a bit more time on our hands this weekend, we'll probably look into buying what we need, even if there's really nowhere to put any additional equipment in our one room apartment. But with a full appeals process taking several months, during which there will no doubt be an ongoing administrative requirement on our part, it increasingly looks like something which has to be done. Meanwhile, all this additional work means I've hardly studied Korean in the last two weeks and I feel my language skills are going backwards again.

Korean keywords: 관료, 아파트, 대사관


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike, I hope everything will go well with your papers. I was in your situation and it's tough! If your appeal doesn't go well, I suggest you move to Canada ( which is what I did and I don't regret AT ALL :)

I also want to thank you for doing such a great job with your website! it's very well written and it's very informative. I check it almost every day!

try to be positive, all is well!

Mike said...

Thanks Elena. It's good to hear I'm not the only one to go through this type of thing. I suppose it happens a lot more than people think.

The British Government have basically told me I should live in Korea for the rest of my life but as that's not something I wish to do I may have to start thinking about where I could call home if I can't get back into my own country to live.

I remain philosophical about what's happened, if perhaps - I hope - understandably irritated :-)

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