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Question from a reader: professionals coming to Korea?

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A reader writes in:

Hi Chris,

I recently obtained a job as a design engineer with one of the major Korean companies. I’ll be moving to [city redacted] in June for at least the next couple years and am very excited for the adventure!

One thing which I haven’t been able to find information on is how to deal with a lot of the financial aspects for the move.  I know you’re not a financial adviser, but I was thinking you or your readers have probably dealt with most of these issues.  How did you deal with things like your old credit cards from before the move? If you have an investment portfolio in your home country did you have to switch that to your Korean address or can you, for example, use your parents’ address.

As part of my job I will probably have to purchase a car. As a foreign resident it’s unlikely I’ll be able to find financing if what I’m hearing about some of the bureaucratic prejudices against foreigners are true. So, if I want to bring in a big wad of cash or transfer cash from a foreign bank account how does that work?

It’s great to read all about your experiences in Korea. I have enjoyed many of your posts immensely. However, I’ve been noticing that virtually every blog/website out there is directed towards incoming language teachers. Do you know any resources for incoming professionals? Also, do you know of any resources or expat communities for people not living in Seoul?

Thanks. Good luck with the rest of  your time in Korea and I look forward to more of your posts!

[D.S.]

Despite Korea’s export-driven nature, there’s a pretty small number of people doing the corporate / professional life. I couldn’t tell you for certain, but for every 1 professional in Korea, there are perhaps 10 English teachers. Combine that with the thought that corporate moves are typically paid for or assisted, and they’re a very small, less lucrative market than the teachers. That said, there is some help out there – and I’ve asked Michelle Farnsworth at the Shinhan Bank Seoul Global Center to weigh in.

How did you deal with things like your old credit cards from before the move? If you have an investment portfolio in your home country did you have to switch that to your Korean address or can you, for example, use your parents’ address.

Personally, I switched to paperless billing and made sure I knew how to pay using their internet payment systems. Trying to explain a move of 7,000 miles to a customer service agent is not my idea of a good time. For an address, I either changed it to my parents address or gave them my address in Korea – don’t just let your credit card statement continue to get returned. As for the investment portfolio, I presume you would have access to it online – switch the physical address to a place where your mail will be safe (e.g. your parents, a trusted friend) and you’re informed of anything that comes in.

As part of my job I will probably have to purchase a car. As a foreign resident it’s unlikely I’ll be able to find financing if what I’m hearing about some of the bureaucratic prejudices against foreigners are true. So, if I want to bring in a big wad of cash or transfer cash from a foreign bank account how does that work?

I’ll quote Michelle here:

Unfortunately, foreigners are not eligible for car loans from Shinhan Bank. The reason for this is that an individual must get a Certificate of Guarantee issued by the LIG Insurance (http://english.lig.co.kr) and unfortunately, LIG Insurance currently has an internal policy that only allows them to issue this certificate to Korean nationals. For this reason, we can only recommend that foreigners apply for a “personal credit loan” to purchase a car.

So, while difficult, it is not impossible a foreigner to get a credit loan in Korea. One way is if the borrower has an excellent credit rating, the Shinhan Head Office may grant special approval of the loan. The more common way is for the borrower to find a Korean guarantor (co-signer) who also has a good credit rating.

You also have the option of purchasing a car with your credit card. If needed you visit the bank with the signed contract for the purchase of your new car, the credit company will increase your credit limit (if needed) to cover the cost of the car (plus a little extra so that you can still use your credit card). Talk to your bank teller about this option.

The good news: in the past three years, routine banking has become so much easier, and plenty more competitive. Getting a usable debit card (e.g. with a Visa / Mastercard logo) is easy, and I’m hearing more anecdotal stories about people getting credit cards.

Regarding the cash: you probably already the rules about carrying more than $10,000 USD internationally – it can be done, but there’s little need. Transferring cash to or from a foreign bank account is relatively easy, but takes some time the first time to get everything set up. Quoted from Michelle:

Sending money from overseas to a Shinhan Bank in Korea:

The remitter will need:

Receiving bank info:
- The receiving bank’s name (Shinhan Bank)
- The receiving bank’s branch name (Shinhan Bank Seoul Global Center*)
- The receiving bank’s address (120, 2-Ga Taepyung-ro, Chung-gu, Seoul 100-102 South Korea)
- The receiving bank’s SWIFT code (SHBKKRSEXXX)

Recipient info (your personal account information):
- Recipient’s name
- Recipient’s phone number
- Recipient’s address (in Korea)
- Recipient’s email address
- Recipient’s bank account number

*This assumes that your account was opened at the Shinhan Bank Seoul Global Center. If it was opened at another location, please just change the name of the branch. All of the other information should stay the same.

I’ll note that I don’t want to endorse Shinhan here – personally, KEB works well for me – and the information required for the transaction would be the same for any Korean bank.

It’s great to read all about your experiences in Korea. I have enjoyed many of your posts immensely. However, I’ve been noticing that virtually every blog/website out there is directed towards incoming language teachers. Do you know any resources for incoming professionals? Also, do you know of any resources or expat communities for people not living in Seoul?

There are a number of organizations you might find other professionals – the American Chamber of Commerce, the American Women’s Club, the British Association of Seoul, the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch, the Seoul International Women’s Association. The COEX mall also offers a number of conventions and exhibitions throughout the year, which is probably networking haven. Don’t forget about anything and everything available internally within your large company.

Until you arrive, the very first place I would check out is AFEK. It’s essentially a nationwide organization of foreign residents living in Korea, often married to Koreans, and/or working in fields outside of education. They’ve seen it, done it, got the t-shirts, and most importantly, they’re still here. Previously, they were only accepting people with F-class visas (residency visas not tied to a specific workplace), but now anyone can check it out. You’ll need an ARC (Alien Registration Card – your Korean ID) to register.

The next place to read is korea4expats.com – more of a reference guide and event calendar than anything else, the site offers a more authoritative look at Korea.

The three largest English-language magazines are also worth perusing – Seoul Magazine, 10 Magazine, and the Groove Magazine all have event listings and keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening. Each has a Seoul bias, but all offer things happening elsewhere in the country.

The majority of expats live in Seoul, so the majority of expat groups and events are also there. The other major cities all have a small but friendly expat presence – Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, etc. You might start with Facebook, or just getting out there to explore the local area.

Readers, are you a professional / working outside the education field? How did you get started?

 

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2011
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.


 


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