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Legality and other matters

A couple of weeks ago I returned to the Immigration office in western Seoul to pick up my passport and Alien Registration Card. Everything was in order. My registration number is the same as my previous one, which makes me think it might be the same one I got the first time I came to Korea all the way back in 2006.

I’ve been kept busy at work, but I finally managed to clear the backlog of proofreading that had built up in my absence. This allowed me to finish the first draft of the workbook I’d been writing. I’ve now got another pile of proofreading to do.

I don’t mind working while I’m at work, but, with effectively nine to seven working hours plus up to an hour and a half travel time every day, I do yearn for a bit of downtime.

My colleagues in the Learning Center at work had a meeting with our boss at the end of last week that left them feeling shitty. The boss told them that we shouldn’t ask for any more support for the Learning Center. The way my colleagues told me about it made it seem that the boss had just denigrated everything we were working for. In disgust at this attitude, they cancelled Friday’s classes, making up an excuse about the electrics being tested.

I don’t know what to think about this, really. I just want to do my job. The problem is that I have two jobs – one teaching, one on the Contents team, writing and editing. I don’t have enough time to do both fully, and the boss’s message seemed to make it clear that my primary concern should be the Contents work – and to hell with the teaching.

In other news, now that spring has sprung Habiba and I have been keeping ourselves busy at weekends with stuff. We went on a hike to Cheonggyesan with a couple of other people. Cheonggyesan is just south of Seoul near Seoul Grand Park. It was OK, but the mountain isn’t as interesting as others. The highlight was stopping at Cheonggyesa, the Buddhist temple, on the way down. There’s a massive sculpture of a sleeping Buddha made of smooth, head-sized rocks set into cement.

The next day we went to Yeouido, the ‘island’ where the National Assembly and the 63 Building are located (I say ‘island’ because its separated from the mainland only by a narrow stream). The road surrounding the Assembly building on the Han River side is lined with cherry trees, and they were in full bloom. The weather was grey, but it was still nice – apart from the huge crowds that were also there to take in the sight.

Yesterday, Habiba, I and Habiba’s friend Jessica went on a Korea Foundation Volunteer Network monthly culture class. We went to Bukchon, an area near the main palace – Gyeongbokgung – and the presidential residence – the Blue House, or Cheongwadae. This neighbourhood is full of traditional Korean houses called hanok, coffee and tea shops, fashion boutiques and a handful of museums.

Our first port of call was a small hanok compound preserved as a museum-cum-culture centre. There, we tie-dyed handkerchiefs in indigo dye. This was a lot of fun. We were each given a white handkerchief and a bunch of elastic bands. We bound the former with the latter and, wearing rubber gloves, dunked them into large bowls of fermented indigo. This dye was warm, green and stinky, although not too obnoxious. Once exposed to the air, the handkerchiefs started to turn blue. I screwed mine into a ball for a cloudy, marbley effect; Habiba made a check pattern; and Jessica’s was something else entirely.

After that we were separated into teams and we had lunch with the two Korean guys who we were grouped with. After that, we walked around Bukchon for a while. I imagine we’ll be heading there again so Habiba can drool over clothes and jewellery. Not literally. Probably.

Today, we have plans to go and see Kick Ass. Again. We saw it on Friday night with a bunch of Habiba’s colleagues. It was – well, it was kick ass. So good, in fact, that we made plans to see it again with a different group of friends.

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