Friday, July 20, 2007

Family Resemblance?

K: My brother sent me some pictures of him and his girlfriend! Whaddya think? Do we look alike?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Contingency plans

K: Mark and I decided to crack open a bottle of Mark West and talk night last night. Partially to celebrate the 2-year anniversary of the day we got engaged (hard to believe it's been that long!) and mostly since we hadn't seen each other all weekend and we wanted to catch up. As Mark puts it (in his mocking tone) "any chance we can get to talk talk talk!" Haha.

As most of our conversations of late usually do, the chatter turned toward our thoughts about moving to Korea. As we shared our perspectives and thoughts, it occurred to both of us how differently we approach the same topics. I asked Mark at what point we would decide not to go. For example, if we don't have jobs lined up 3 months before we'd fly out for the Olympics, would we decide it was a lost cause... or would we wait until two weeks before.. or the day before...??

Mark looked at me like I was crazy - like not going was not even an option. That's where we differ: when Mark decides he's going to do something, he doesn't even consider failure as an option, whereas I prefer to have a backup plan. I'm of the mindset that if I don't know what will happen if it doesn't work out, then the failure would be even worse.

So... to ease my nerves, we formulated a "contingency plan." We decided that if Korea doesn't work out, we will immediately start saving for a trip to Europe, which is something we've always talked and daydreamed about. Not a bad contingency plan, eh? China/Korea one year and Europe the next!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Language Barriers

M: Speaking to another person through an interpreter is a truly unique experience. I was not sure who to look at when I was speaking or if everything I said could be translated to Korean and keep the same meaning. I had to be careful when using metaphors, slang or other common everyday sayings that I would normally use in a conversation.

Peter Yim, a friend of K's birth father, who served as our interpreter during their visit, was a godsend. I am not quite sure how he was able to still have a voice by the time they departed St. Louis. But speaking through a translator is not the same as speaking directly to the individual.

After reading the email that K received from Sang Kwan, we saw the great lengths that he went to in order to communicate with his sister. We decided that we too need to break the language barrier and learn how to speak Korean. We are hoping to take a class this fall, but we also have purchased some text books so that we can start teaching ourselves.

Last night was our first lesson and it went okay. We went over the Korean alphabet and some basic rules of pronunciation. We can already see that this will be a difficult task, but K and I are looking forward to the challenge.


K: This weekend M and I went through our budget and decided that if we really want to take this trip we're going to have to sacrifice. We have some debt we need to eliminate to make this trip a reality. We're going to follow Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover" plan. Currently, we need to pay off our Citi credit card and our student loans. M decided he doesn't actually need his luxury SUV, so he's going to trade it in for a smaller, cheaper car with a lower monthly payment. Finally, (this is just a small step) but we're getting rid of our Blockbuster Online membership. It's only $20/month, but every penny counts!

The next part (I think) will be the toughest. We have decided to cut out eating out entirely until our Citi card (at least!) is paid off. No more quick lunches or Sunday breakfasts or dinners out with friends. Every dollar we save from eating at home will be used to attack our debt!

These next few months will be tough, but I just keep thinking... when we're exploring Korea together, we will be so glad we made the sacrifices!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Seoul Research

K: One more thing to add, yesterday M did some research about where I'd be working if I stayed with the company I currently work at. Big W-O-W!

Gangnam-gu is one of the 25 gu (local government districts) which make up the city of Seoul, South Korea. It is one of the most affluent areas of Seoul and is located in the southeast of the city. It is served by Seoul Subway Line 2, Seoul Subway Line 3, Seoul Subway Line 7 and the Bundang Line.

Several popular shopping and entertainment areas are located in Gangnam-gu, including Apgujeong, the COEX Mall and the area around Gangnam Station. The important business district around Teheranno (Tehran Street) runs east-west from Gangnam Station to Samseong Station and the COEX-KWTC complex.

Known as the Silicon Valley of Korea, Gangnam-gu's "Teheran Valley" is a progressive commercial district along Teheran-no street. The street is home to numerous venture companies, especially IT and Internet-related companies. Many finance, insurance, and trade companies also have offices located here. Such major companies as Yahoo! Korea, Dacom, LG Telecom, and Samsung SDS have moved their main offices to the area. Most venture businesses are concentrated between Gangnam Subway Station and the
COEX / World Trade Center (which also includes the ASEM Convention Center and City Air Terminal). The high concentration of venture firms gives the area a second nickname as Korea's "Venture Valley." The sector also expands far beyond, stretching for many blocks in all directions through Gangnam-gu.

With such a concentration of high technology firms, the area serves as a breeding ground for creativity and progress. To support them, the area has the best infrastructure in Korea for technology, transportation, and facilities. Many support companies (e.g., venture capital firms, incubation companies, consultants, lawyers) also thrive here. The World Trade Center Seoul (WTCS) houses many organizations existing to help foreign businesses do business in Korea. Foreign companies wanting to tap into Korea's high technology and venture sectors should plan to locate near Teheran-no to tap into the creativity flowing throughout the area. Foreign businesses looking for highly qualified Korean partners should begin their search here.

Background stuff...

K: I'll be the first to blog. A little background for those who may not be familiar with the story (although I assume if you're interested enough to read this, you probably already know the background stuff.)

I was adopted from Korea when I was two and I have the best parents in the world. Over the last few years, my birth father has connected with me and despite a huge language barrier (he only speaks Korean and I only speak English) we have kept in contact sporadically through translators. Well, he last fall, I met him for the first time (since I was a baby) when he came to St. Louis for my wedding! Unbelievable.

Well, to condense an incredibly long story, last weekend I received a call from the translator's nephew inviting us to Beijing for the 2008 summer Olympics. My new husband M and I began thinking... if we already have a plane ticket, what better chance to get to know my birth family and my homeland than to move there for a year. Sooo... the adventure begins.

I started by talking to my work who has an office in Seoul (my birthplace). They tell me they need to run it by the "higher ups" and filtering everything through HR and there may be some complications (namely I don't speak a word of Korean... yet!)

I think I've gotten you completely up to date on where M and my progress thus far.

Oh, one more thing, got my first email from my big brother in Korea, Sang-Kwan. He's only two years older than me and the email below is the first contact we've ever had...


From: 김상관
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2007 9:15 AM
Subject: I 'm your brother

Dear Kimberly : First ,Congratulations,you got married ! It's a pitty i can't go to American to take your wedding . I heart that you wrote the email to Ded and me .I fell very happy . These days i want to know all about you . I wrote many email to you before .but you can't repeat it or. mabe you never recive it ! but NOW I have your news ,i feel happy too ! you said you will come to china with your family next year . I expact . I want to see you as soon as possible ! I can't write so much ,just beacause my poor english . but i stiill exsitting! I never forget you !
miss you --- your brother

Now you see exactly why M and I are embarking on this adventure. Sang Kwan even learned english to talk to me!!!