Thursday, January 21, 2010

Conversations and Numbers

Gene came to Ha So yesterday to talk to me.  We're still waiting on Ian's diploma, so Julia is calling him twice a day.  She (Yoon's) is facing a fine because of it.  But, I can't feel bad because she waited three months to tell us that she actually does need it, which is contrary to everything she told us just before she left.

He also wanted to talk to me about an email I had sent him regarding the Korean taxes we're paying.  I recently learned (via a fellow teacher on Facebook) that U.S. citizens get the taxes they pay while in Korea back when they provide proof that they are leaving the country.  The two taxes we pay are listed on the paystubs that Julia gives us each month, so I wanted to know which it was that we got back, figuring it was the small one: 6,900 (about $6) won from each of us each month.  The other tax is much larger, 69,000 (about $60) from each of us each month.  According to Gene, we get both back.  So, 66x2= 132.  132x12=1584.  That's $1,584 on top of the bonus that we'll get upon completion of our contract (approximately $4,050).  We haven't been nearly as successful in saving money as we were hoping.  We've been paying back costs from the wedding (and traveling), so our free income has been eaten up.  This month marks the last of those payments and we've decided to take a local trip for Ian's birthday, so it should get better from here on out.  Starting with our February paycheck we will be saving at least $1,000 a month, which will give us $7,000 in savings before bonuses (which aren't included in our savings plan since they'll pay for our leisurely trip home), tax returns and final paychecks (over $5,500).  We're hoping to have a decent savings foundation when we come home.

Gene asked me whether Ian and I were thinking of renewing our contracts and I was honest with him for the first time.  Up until now, we've been playing the "Oh, we don't know" card.  I told Gene that it's been difficult since we got married so recently and that teaching wasn't my long term career plan, as it is Ian's.  What I didn't tell him was that this part of our lives still feels like we're pretending (almost an adult life, but not quite).  Neither of us feel like we can get anywhere in our current positions and that those feelings combined with near complete alienation and objectification make us feel like shells of who we want to be.  I told him we intended to hire headhunters to help us get jobs back home and I encouraged him to do the same.  Gene really wants to get away from Korea, he just hasn't worked out how, yet.  The process of getting a work visa is standing in his way.

Ian is getting along well with the new Korean English teacher at Goam.  He doesn't know her name, but she actually lives full time in Spain, near Madrid.  She is here teaching English to make money while she cares for her sick mother.  Jecheon seems to be on her top 5 list of places she absolutely does not want to live, so she's not exactly excited to be home.  Her English is pretty good and she's fluent in Spanish.  I haven't met her, yet, but we are thinking of inviting her out with us sometime.  I think she's potentially one of the most interesting people we've met here.

That's about all that's new over here.  I feel like I may have drowned you in numbers.  Good night!


  1. Good for you guys in your savings goals. It will be great to have that cushion when you come home. I am starting to get worried about the diploma. How many days has it been?

    Gene sounds like a nice guy. You guys should invite this new person out, she sounds very nice. I think Madrid is one of the places you guys want to visit , isn't it?

  2. Yeah, we definitely want to go to Madrid. We're thinking of planning our trip home around random people we know living in random places. Choosing where to go is hard. Gene is a really nice guy. Too bad he feels the need to work for Julia. It's been 14 days since you sent the diploma. So, not frightening, yet, but getting there.