Under 30s version
Mike. British. Pusan. South Korea. Married Korean. Not teaching. F-2. Old. Wordy.
Over 30s version
Thank you for visiting 'Busan Mike', a 25 year study into the development of serious personality disorders within the expat community in Korea. This is year 3.
A team of foreign scientists has determined that the most frightening word in the Korean language is '우리', which approximately translates as 'we', 'our', 'not you' and 'you will never be one of us'. The longer I live in Korea, the more this word scares me.
As you might be able to tell from the way I write, I'm not an English teacher, although I am actually English, so any perceived misspellings are probably down to the differences between the Real English I speak and American Genuine Advantage English. Generally of course, Korea prefers Americans to native English native English teachers, but I don't teach because I work for myself as a financial trader, although after seven years I'm now thoroughly bored with it. Seven years is a long time to do anything - just ask your spouse.
I met my wife in England so I don't need one of those cover stories that some foreigners use to avoid telling the real version of how they met their spouse in Korea, which might otherwise involve words like 'bargirl' and 'student'. It also means I had no particular interest in South Korea before I set myself on the path of living here, which I prefer to think of as a collision course. I came to Busan in 2006 to get married and take a six month break which I needed after developing Meniere's Disease and being really sick for over a year. Then the British government exiled me by refusing to grant my wife a spousal visa on the grounds that they "didn't believe I intended to return to the UK to live." Even I can’t make up comedy like that. I only didn't laugh out loud because I was afraid if I did, my head would've fallen off, which no doubt would have made the appeal process even more difficult.
We eventually did go back after winning a long and expensive legal case, and my wife passed the required "Life in the UK" test, which surprisingly doesn't yet involve performing any random acts of violence to demonstrate the ability to integrate. But then we returned to Korea when the time came to extend my wife's visa, because I realised I have better things to do with my life than spending it in immigration lawyers' offices. When I was growing up I wanted to be a physicist (not clever enough), a writer (not experienced enough), a politician (not intolerant and dictatorial enough) and a software developer (which I finally quit for financial trading), but at no point did I consider making a career out of fighting the British government.
In 2010 with my illness finally in remission - or at least the best remission I’m evidently going to get - I started doing a regular ten minute guest slot on Busan eFM. Committing to a live radio show at a fixed time every week was a huge personal step forward for me. After reaching the end of the line with trading, I'm now even looking for a proper job.
Statistically you aren't reading this blog, and that's OK. I write for the self-therapy, the intellectual challenge of crafting the words people aren't reading, and for posterity. If one day my children read this and understand a little bit more about me for it, then it has served its purpose, even if it's to understand that I really was as intellectually bankrupt and alienated as I might have appeared.
Generally I like my life in Korea, but life in this country isn't perfect - you only need to read the Korean newspapers to see what Koreans say about life here to understand that. Sometimes overseas Koreans - or anonymous Westerners in cultural drag - like to demonstrate their boredom and inability to engage in critical thinking by suggesting that I am 'too negative' about Korea, which only serves to prove that while I have Meniere’s Disease, it is other people who have real problems with their sense of balance.
If, on balance, life here were not better than the one I left behind in England, then I wouldn't be living in Korea. But I tend towards not writing the kind of relentlessly-positive material that would get me published on Korea.com. Someone once said that the problem with many Koreans is that if you scratch the surface, all you get is more surface - but in my experience some foreigners are just the same.
English people are often known for their irreverent humor (sic), so I'd like to clear up any cultural misunderstandings and say that anything in this blog which appears sardonic, sarcastic or just downright bitchy is probably is, but I often write with my tongue firmly buried in my cheek - as opposed to someone else's - and not just because of the problems I have with my jaw.
If you wish to contact me you can find my email address via my Blogger profile.