Thursday, March 21, 2013

Getting a phone and a bank account without your co-teacher, in Daegu

As I've said before, my co-teacher is ridiculously busy. I also may have mentioned how expensive that first week in Seoul was, and how I brought enough money to last a month but didn't really count the weeks properly, or factor in the expense of a week-long party. 

Anyway, last week I found myself down to my last ₩50 000 and the lack of a phone on top of that was making it very hard to coordinate with my friends, and co-teacher. As it stood, I would send her an email and then hope that she would check it and reply, and then I'd have to be home and near my laptop to see it... Eh. Not great.

On top of that, being that broke meant that I was avoiding spending money like the plague. Taking the bus downtown? Oh, don't mind me. I'll walk. It's only a 40 or so minute walk, after all. I even figured out how to get free food 7 days a week: 

Monday - Friday: Eat in the school cafeteria. Eat a lot. Eat until you're stuffed. At least you won't have to have dinner. Make sure to store all the free cake and treats you get in your school. 
Saturday: Eat your week's stash of freebies. 
Sunday: Not religious? Who cares? Go to church. They serve a full lunch, such as Bulgogi. 

Cake and a Ferrero Rocher? Breakfast of champions. The best free staffroom food so far has been a burger and a coke.
Alternatively, make friends with a co-worker and let them treat you to a five course meal.
So, walking everywhere and eating for free, and trying not to spend all my money on beer, I've been able to stretch out that last ₩50 000 and live quite comfortably. But I want a bicycle, and I needed a bank account before payday, and, well, there's a reason EVERYONE has cellphones these days. They're quite handy. 

My co-teacher had tried to take me to the bank, but they wouldn't accept my ARC certificate of application, even though they were supposed to. They said they wouldn't accept it without picture ID, and my co-teacher took that as a flat-out no. I wasn't so sure, but I didn't want to be with Daegu Bank anyway, because I want to travel all over Korea and having an account with a national bank is a bit more convenient. Also, I had heard about all the perks foreigners get with KEB, like the cheap rates for sending cash home, and I have a big loan to pay off. Not to mention online banking in English. 

So I took a walk to the nearest branch of KEB during my lunch period. It was a 20 minute walk. It looked much closer on the map. Whoops. I got there, and the very nice clerk told me that they couldn't do anything without TWO forms of picture ID as well as my ARC, and all I had was my passport. So, not one to give up, especially after teaching a week of "Never Give Up", I took a cab home, fetched my South African ID, took a cab back, and got a bank account. 

Except they couldn't give me a card or online banking until my ARC arrived. Well, I was willing to wait for that. At least with a bank book I could get a phone.

How to get a smartphone in Daegu, without a co-teacher

1. Email Eliza at auikorea (at) gmail (dot) com. She speaks fluent English and she will save your life. Ask her for any information you want, and set up an appointment. My lovely friend Rene had heard about her on an online forum, and she'd gotten several phones from Eliza. 
2. Make sure you have a bank account. Even if you don't have a card yet, or any money in it, you just need an account number and your bank book. 
3. Visit Eliza (near Kyungpook University Hospital) at this building.

It's on Google Maps.
Stuff you should take with you:

ARC card or certificate
Bank Book
Some money (About ₩60 000 , although you probably won't have to pay anything).
A book to read, or something to keep you busy. It takes her a while to set everything up. 

4. Once you're inside the building, head to the right, to the elevators. Take one of the three elevators on your right. The ones on the left don't go to the 10th floor, which is where you're going. 

5. Step out of the elevators and go into this office:

It looks like this inside: 

Have a seat, chat to Eliza, and drink some tea while she sets everything up for you. 

She'll lead you from there, and then, you can enjoy your shiny new smartphone. I got an amazing discount, and my monthly bill is about ₩55 000, which is a hell of a lot cheaper than you would pay for a Samsung Galaxy S3 in most other places. Eliza gives you the discount, and she also throws in a bunch of freebies. She's lovely.

You have to sign a 24 month contract, but if you're only planning to stay for one year then contact her before you leave so she can organise to transfer your contract to someone else, so she doesn't lose money and you don't have to pay a huge fine for ditching your contract. Basically, don't screw her over.

No queues. No upfront fees. No language barrier. This was the best thing ever, and I could never have done it without my friend Rene's help.

My phone once belonged to Edward Cullen. 
Now that I have my phone, I took lunch today to go back to the bank and update them on the existence of my ARC card (it arrived on Monday) and my phone number, without which my dad couldn't send me money. I got back to the office and set up online banking, at which point I discovered...

I have been paid early! I gave my bank book to the admin wizards the day I got it, and they made a copy and put it on file, and paid my settlement money sometime between then and now. So this whole week, I've been living on free staff room dduk, when I could have been eating steak every night. It's like the worst episode of Secret Millionaire ever. 

I could have been using that money to fill out my pants
Just in time, my bills have arrived, so there goes a chunk of my money already. Except, it's Korea. So my bills are only $7 and $30 each, for electricity and gas. And that's ridiculously cheap, when you're a millionaire. So I don't mind. 

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