Earlier this year, I worked in my company’s publishing department editing a Korean history book. While a lot of the information blended together because of the extensive detail and use of Korean names, I did learn a little about the Silla Kingdom and its grand history. Among many things, Silla is credited for creating the first unified Korea by conquering the two kingdoms of Baekje (백제) and Goguryeo (고구려). The Silla, an ancient kingdom of Korea, once called the city of Gyeongju its capital, which is partly the reason I wanted to visit.
Outside the Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, Chris and I rented a scooter for 25,000 won for three hours. After we picked up a handy map of Gyeongju in English from the tourist center outside the bus terminal, we hopped on our scooter and hit the road.
Not too long later, we arrived at our destination: a famous temple. Bulguksa (불국사) is the main site to see in Gyeongju. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest temples in Korea. The structure standing today has gone through dozens of renovations, but it was incredible to think that Koreans were on this sacred land more than 1,400 years ago building this very temple.
We skipped seeing the Seokguram Grotto (석굴암) because the weather started to turn on us (check out my sweet rain poncho!). We hopped back on the scooter and headed out to see a sex museum; however, the steep admission of 10,000 won each scared us away.
On our ride back to the bus terminal, I spotted a line of luxury cars parked casually in a coffee shop’s parking lot. We stopped to take a peak (and a handful of photos). To no surprise, we weren’t the only ones enjoying the view.
Getting to Gyeongju: I took a 50-minute bus ride from Dongdaegu bus terminal. The cost is no more than 4,300 won ($5) each way.
One thing I did not mention in my first two posts about applying for a job in Korea is that my job includes a pension plan. The pension is on top of the salary, severance pay, round-trip airfare, health insurance and furnished apartment. Not bad, eh?
The pension is called a lump-sum pension refund. If you qualify, a small amount of money is taken out of your paycheck each month and matched by your employer. Unfortunately, my British and Kiwi coworkers pay into the pension yet do not qualify to receive the pension at the end of their contracts, yet Americans and Canadians can expect to receive their lump-sum pension refund four to five weeks after ending their contract.
My pension is meant to be around 1.6 million won (or $1,550)** after working in Korea for 12 months. For me, the best part about this money is that it was an added “savings” account for me. While I was able to save about 59% of my paycheck, this is added savings that I did not have to account for.
Collecting your lump-sum pension refund is easy. The woman in the office in Daegu speaks English. Some male foreign teachers have tried to snag her number, so she is good looking, too. I recommend visited the office four weeks before your flight out of Korea to give you time in case you’re missing documents.
It is an easy trip to the National Pension Service Office.
Be sure to bring:
Alien Registration Card
Flight ticket (should be within one month of departure date)
If you want your money transferred into your KEB account, bring your KEB bank account passbook
If you want the money transferred into your home country’s bank account, bring the following information: bank’s address, phone number, account number, routing number, and a copy of a bank statement.
Where’s the National Pension office in Daegu?
Beomeo Station (범어역), on the green line. The LIG building is between exit 1 and 4. It is a huge building, you cannot miss it. The office is on the 11th floor.
If you want to be lazy and take a taxi (you are about to get 1.5 million won, so you can afford to splurge) Tell the taxi: 범어역 출구 1번으로 가주세요 – (Boh-Moh-Yuck-Chool-Goo-Eel-Bohn-Euh-Roh-Gah-Choo-Say-Yoh)
Korea Burn was held on 4th of July weekend in the town of Taean, which is on the east coast a few hours south of Seoul. I arrived late Friday night on the Enjoy Korea bus. Enjoy Korea is a solid travel company ran by an awesome American girl, Stacey. She has done a great job putting together trips and packages for low-stress, high-satisfaction fun. I highly recommend going on an Enjoy Korea trip.
The Burn was something I was really looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. My friends from Cheongju put together an awesome themed Camp of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
While costumes are not required, it is one of those things you will wish you had put some time into a costume. Korea Burn is an event where the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. The biggest lesson from Korea Burn is BRING BUGSPRAY.
Chris ordered this headdress off of Etsy in preparation for the event.
My coworkers and good friend Rikus, who the students call Matt Teacher, went on vacation for a week. It was during middle school testing, which is a time I do not have classes but instead work on preparing test questions or work in my school’s publishing department.
Covering Rikus’s classes was a welcomed surprise because the students are a few years younger than my 12- to 14-year-old students. There were loads of differences between teaching these different age groups.
First, the students were incredibly kind and took the time to say hello. The students were happy, carefree, not stressed and seemed to enjoy being at academy (or at least better at hiding their dismay).
“Me! Me! Me!” was exclaimed when I asked,”Who wants to read the first paragraph?” It was a welcomed change from the middle schoolers averting eye contact when it came time to be called on.
During my five-day holiday, I traveled to Seoul to have a museum day, a beach day and a hiking day. On Tuesday, September 9, I set out to explore the Seoul Modern and Contemporary Art Museum and Insa-dong on my own.
After exploring the museum, I walked past Gyeongbokgung, the large palace, and one of the small gates to Insa-dong, a touristy street full of shops and many foreigners. I have visited Insa-dong before but this time was different because I was alone with no time restraints and able to take my time looking around.
A homeless man in a bright neon vest had to move his home because a generator was on fire. There was a lot of commotion and excitement.
An artist set up a table with two red plastic stools across from him. He was asking for models to sit so he could quickly draw their face with a traditional brush and black ink on a small sheet of white paper.
I sat down and the artist smiled at me with his kind eyes. A family of four stopped to look over the artist’s shoulder as he quickly drew my face.
When he was nearly finished, his phone rang. He apologized and picked up to answer. He spoke quickly in Korean, but I recognized the word, “no” and “text.”
After hanging up, he finished my portrait and asked me to sign my name. He kindly allowed me to take a picture. His goal with the project is to draw one million faces. He was able to complete a face in less than two minutes until he is interrupted by a phone call, of course.