Being a Registered Alien

My family and I have kept a status of “Registered Alien”  in South Korea for the past 5 years.

This is on my mind today because we are at the local immigration office, renewing our status once again. Just like any government office, if you need official document work, you are in for a long wait. (Only 80 more people before our turn)


While we all wait, I thought I would write a quick post about being an alien and what I have learned for the experience.

First, here is what the kids are doing.



Some one just walked up and bumped us 20 spots closer. Yay! (This is a live feed. Smile)


Now, 5 Things being a “Registered Alien” has tabecause.

1) Living in a country that is not your own bring added difficulty.

There are certainly some obvious difficulties that come with being in another country. Language is one of the most obvious, and certainly is difficult. But we have found that figuring out living and working is much harder. We cannot legally make money without owning a working Visa (equivalent to an American green card….which I do have). Yet there are opportunities such as English tutoring. It is strange to figure out what is legal and what is not, and who we should pay taxes to.

Because of this, I understand the trouble that American aliens must deal with.

2) Living here makes me super happy for the effort South Korea makes to accommodate English speakers

I am sitting here in line at the immigration office waiting to meet the representative that will help me. I am so confident that the representative will speak English that my family and I have come by ourselves, without bringing any Korean friends. I am so thankful for this. Many businesses here have options for English, that make life so much easier for me and my family.

I remember the accommodations we made for Spanish speaking clients at my bank job in the states, and I also remember how frustrated that made some English speakers. Let me tell you, the accommodations make a huge difference for the life of that person who has a hard time with English.

3) Living here has taught me that traveling the world is easier than most of us think.

My family and I have traveled to America four times since moving overseas. Flight is at least 12 hours in the air and usually 24 hour of total traveling time. Each time is very different, but each time gets easier. We have become traveling veterans. Even our kids have figured it out.

I have also traveled to India, Thailand and China. And we hope to visit more countries while we are here.

Traveling always seems intimidating, but in the end it is well worth it and usually not as difficult as you expected….Though cost and jetlag are REAL and problematic.

4) America can learn a lot from countries around the world

There are at least three things about South Korea that I would love to see America adopt.

1) Safety
South Korea is a very safe place to live. Aside from the neighbor to the north, there is nothing that stands as a consistent threat to societal safety. Children are allowed to walk home from their night schools, sometimes that means 8-9pm. Simply amazing.

2) Kid Friendliness
South Koreans are always thinking about their children. Every community has a playground around every corner and most large businesses host some kind of play place or kid friendly area.

3) Cheap health care
Health care in Korea is very cheap. Insurance (assuming you have a working Visa) cost about $50 per month for my entire family. Doctor visits never cost more than $20 with or without insurance. Children are free at large hospitals if they have a long stay. Generally you only pay high prices for non-nessary procedures. Lastly, filling prescriptions is also dirt cheap.

5) Each and every country has its own problems and needs people willing to step into messy situations and try to help

South Korea has high suicide rates, especially among teens. South Korea also has high amounts of orphaned children, unwanted pregnancies. There also have a big drinking culture that cause a lot of problems. Not to mention the problems that are cause by the amount of military personnel on the peninsula.

All this is to say that South Korea, just like the US and all other countries in the world, has problems. These problems are the effects of a fallen world. We need to be part of the solution, offering hope and help to the people dealing with these problems. With the Gospel on our tongue and hands ready to get messy, we can make a big difference around the world.


Have you ever traveled anywhere or lived overseas? What has it taught you?

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