Weekly Blog Roundup

A look at some of the political problems that come with having some 20,000ish troops stationed in Seoul. As it stands, the United States probably has more command over the South Korean Military than South Korea does. Will troop withdrawal ever occur? Doesn’t seem like it. Here’s a scenario: North Korea shoots a nuclear weapon at Seoul, there goes your 20,000ish troops.

– Are you a foreigner having trouble getting an international banking card? You’re hardly alone. Many foreigners find discriminatory practices from Korean banks when applying for the card. Either the banks are completely ignorant of the the laws or are unwilling to follow them.

Nonghyup said it would be no problem for me to receive an international cash card, and even more bizarrely, the Ulchiro-1-ga branch of Hana told me that I could get an international cash card right away. I admit that I was skeptical at first given my previous experience with them, but sure enough, I had one in my hands within 5 minutes. It reads, “Hana International Debit Card” and works with the global “Plus” network. Amazing, but also incredibly strange!

I was so confused by all of this that I called up the Ministry of Finance and Economy, to see if there was really some sort of government restriction against issuing international cash cards to foreign residents in Korea. The official I spoke with, however, was just as baffled by the situation as I was.

“There is no government policy preventing foreign residents from receiving international bank cards,” he said. “The banks either misunderstand our policy, or it’s just their excuse.” Meanwhile, officials at the local banking industry’s Financial Supervisory Service could tell me nothing more concrete, beyond the by now largely ritualistic expression, “As a Korean, I’m sorry.”

Here’s the full article written in English. You may want to get the Korean version also to bring to your bank if you try to get an international banking card. My opinion; since most tellers speak little to no English it’s probably easier to just brush us off, illegally, than it is to accommodate us. (via the Marmot’s Hole)

– Also, from the Marmot’s Hole. More on banking. Myths and Facts.

– A couple via Korea Beat, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite sites. Here’s one talking about some of the new English Education Policies the new president is discussing. And an interesting look at the day in a life of a subway driver. Note; it’s not as easy as it would seem…definitely a bit more than pushing a green means go button.

– I’ve often wondered about the Korean art scene beyond the K-Pop juggernaut. Here’s an interesting look at Daegu, and it’s underground art scene.

– I think my personal favorite t-shirt is the picture of the umbrella that says “Rain or Shine.” These might only be funny though if you live in Korea.

– Hair styles as determiners of economic trends? Not about Korea, but Japan is close enough. Besides, the article is interesting/encompassing enough that it deserves a read no matter what culture you are getting your hair cut in.

Beckhamania visits Seoul

– Perhaps the upcoming J-Lo version of South Korea. I’m actually posting this for two reasons. First; the name, Honey. That by itself is not a ridiculous name, but I’ve also met girls named Cherry and Soy, which may hint at a sub-conscious cultural desire to be associated with auxiliary food items. Second reason; I think she’s hot.

– I want to steal this sign:

steal.jpg

– And Finally, Via Amanda Takes Off. More evidence that the mandatory two year Korean Military Service, is not all weekends with the boys and cleaning your AK at elementary schools

I remembered my friend Mark’s story about cooking ramyeon in a hostel in Europe by running hot water over it in the sink. I told that to Good Man and he said very seriously, “We didn’t make much money, and we had to sneak around. Ramyeon was very precious.”

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