In order to actually count as a person here in South Korea, one must obtain an Alien Registration Card (ARC). One needs this to get a cell phone, internet, bank account, health insurance, yadda yadda. Fortunately I already have internet and a bank account but am lacking in the cell phone department, which severely hinders contact with the outside, English-speaking world. In order to remedy my feeling of helplessness, I made the sojourn across the city with my co-teacher to apply for my ARC and finally count here.
Thankfully the office is open until 6, so I did not need to sign out of school (yet again) to run errands. The application was easy enough (about the same info as applying for a credit card) and the cost, I thought, was 10,000 won. False. As the weekend excursions of merrymaking and shopping cleaned out my cash supply of won, I scrounged through my wallet in search of a meager 10,000 for the fee. I found it! One 5,000 note, 3 1,000 notes, 3 500 coins, and 5 100 coins. Bingo. Exactly 10,000. Of course with any sort of official/government anything, there are other costs involved. Notably, the extra 50,000 won stamp in my passport to allow me multiple re-entries into the country (I plan to go to Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, among others) and the 4,000 won fee to mail it back. Normally I would have just opted to return and pick the card up, but that would take quite some time. The mail option allows you to receive your card a day or so after it is finished. The earlier I am a real alien the better. And because they do not have an ATM handy at the Daegu Immigration Office, I had to borrow the 54,000 won from my co-teacher (which reminds me, I need to give that back...)
The biggest stressor with the ARC, though, is that once again I had to surrender my passport (to have the re-entry stamp put in it) and it will be mailed back to me. So this means all I have as ID right now is my Kentucky driver's license, which everyone thinks is fake, and my UK ID, which has the face of a rabid cat on it. Hooray.
I will be sure to post what my Alien registration looks like. And no, Mom, the picture doesn't have antennas on it. :)