KIIP Korean Immigrant Immersion Program Pre-Test

I decided to step up my Korean studies by applying for the Korean Immigrant Immersion Program (KIIP) Korean class. It’s a free program provided by the government for foreigners. Before taking the class, you have to register with the website and take a placement test. I used a lot of this guy’s information on registering for the site and the test. His posts are a few years old, but they are still valid.

The day of the test, I had to go to Busan Foreign Language University. Staff and signs were plentiful, pointing you in the direction you needed to go. There was a printout hanging on the wall that listed your name and room assignment. In the room, you are seated alphabetically with a name sticker on your desk so you know exactly where to go.

My room was set up to seat 70 people but only about 40 people showed up. The demographic was a mix of about half men, half women. There was a handful of westerners with the majority demographic being Vietnamese.

Before the test started, we had to put our phones and bags at the front of the room. We were allowed to keep water, our ID, and test registration ticket at our desk. There was a short PowerPoint presentation showing you how to fill out your scantron answer card. They explain everything in Korean. There were 3 staff members in the room circulating to make sure no one had questions and filled everything out right.

The tests were handed out at 1:00 on the dot. There were a couple people who arrived just as the tests were being handed out and were allowed to sit for the test. However, they wasted a lot of precious test time filling out the mundane information for the card before they could even start the test.

The Written Test
The written test consisted of 40+ multiple choice questions. The questions started easy with vocabulary then increased in difficulty with grammar. The last few questions were culture related. One questions asked, “Which ingredient is not used in samgyetang?” (The answer was “duck.”) The last 2 questions were short answer write-ins. It gave you a short dialog and asked you to write in the missing words. If you want to practice for this test, these TOPIK mock tests are a good way to start.

One annoyance other than the fact that my room smelled like a huffing addict’s wet dream, was when the test administrators checked my ID in the middle of the test. They went around the room and took your ID card and your scantron answer paper and checked it thoroughly. I lost a good 60 seconds waiting for him to return my card. You also cannot mark on the question paper. This is a problem for me. I’m a very tactile and visual test-taker so I like to be able to cross off answers I’m unsure of and make notes.

When the test is over, they swoop in and collect your papers. You always get the few who pretend like they don’t understand what’s going on and try to write in a few extra answers. It’s a pre-test. If you don’t know the answer, randomly picking answers isn’t going to help you. Don’t be that person.

Then we were all herded into an auditorium. A lady stood at the front with a projected spreadsheet that listed everyone by when they registered for the test. And there she called us number by number, and we shuffled into rows of 5. I truly pity the people who registered close to test day. Listening to “80번? 80번? 80번? 없어요? 81번? 81번? 81번?” for an hour without a phone or music must be a mild form of torture. I registered 3 months early and was still in the 40s.

The Speaking Test
Our group of 5 was seated in a line according to our number. We each had a piece of paper with the same Korean passage. It was a beginner-level paragraph about Korean traditional markets. (Beginner level as in completed Level 2 in Talk to Me in Korean curriculum.) The first person read the passage out loud and was asked a few comprehension questions about the passage. Then they asked a few miscellaneous questions about vacations, how your country’s vacations are different from Korea’s, what you like better, etc. The questions were all based on your level of comprehension and how well you answered the previous questions, but overall, we were all asked the same questions.

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How to Apply for an F-4 Visa

This is information on how to apply for an F-4 visa for Korea as an adopted American citizen. This is information from my own experience.

To be eligible for an F-4 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
1. Born in Korea –or– a parent born in Korea
2. Be at least 22 years old
3. Not a Korean citizen*

*If you currently have Korean citizenship or dual citizenship, you will need to renounce your Korean citizenship before you are able to apply for an F-4 visa.

Step 1:
Contact your Korean adoption agency. Keep in mind that Holt International and Holt Children’s Services are two different agencies. If you do not know which agency you were adopted through, it would be better to send an email to both. Explain that you would like 2 copies of your adoption certificate (입양사실확인서). This is a different document than your adoption records. One will be used to apply for your visa, the other will be needed later when you apply for your Alien Registration Card (ARC). Give as much identifying information as possible.

Step 2:
Contact your local Korean Consulate. Explain you would like to apply for an F-4 visa and ask what documents are needed. Here are all the documents I had to turn in:

  • Passport
  • Visa application form
  • Korean registry application form
  • Adoption certificate
  • Original Certificate of Naturalization
  • Payment ($45.00 for visa plus $1.50 for family registration fee)
  • Self-addressed stamped envelope (since I couldn’t pick up in person)

It’s highly recommended to send with tracking to and from the Embassy. About 2-3 weeks later, you should get your Passport back with a shiny F-4 visa pasted in it. Oh and you’ll get your Certificate of Naturalization back, too.

Benefits of an F-4 Visa

  1. Unlimited entry
    This doesn’t really mean much if you have an ARC. If you don’t have a job in Korea but want to come and go as you please, an unlimited entry comes in handy.
  2. Valid for 2 Years
    Standard teaching work visas are E-2s and are only valid for a year. You will have to go to the immigration office if you want to renew your contract. Tourist visas are good for 30 days.
  3. More Employability
    Having an F-4 means your employer does not have to sponsor your visa, which makes them more willing to hire you. This is especially useful for some hagwons. Don’t want to work as a teacher? No problem! An F-4 also gives you the freedom to work anywhere as a Korean citizen would. 
  4. Notoriety
    Don’t like the new girl in school? Just hang a red card in her locker and let Goo Joon-Pyo do the rest. Don’t get the reference? Please watch more classic Korean dramas.

 

Pepero Day

November 11 is Pepero Day in Korea. Pepero is a Korean snack. It’s a thin breadstick covered in chocolate and other flavors. If you’ve ever had a Japanese Pocky, it’s basically the same thing. The date being 11-11 is to the likeness of Peperos being long and thin, just like the number one.

According to the most reliable source on the internet, Wikipedia, Pepero was originally given to friends on Pepero Day in hopes of being taller and thinner. From my experience, the current trend of Pepero Day has changed since then. It’s more like the Valentines Day for friends. You go, Glen Coco! In my main middle school, giving Peperos are banned. I think it has something to do with money, status, bribes, and the makings of a Korean Millennial Generation. That doesn’t stop them from sneaking them in and swapping anyway.

At any rate, if you would like to participate in Korean culture, make sure you buy some Peperos and give them to people you pretend to like.

2016 Korean Culture “Workshop”

Yearly Culture Trip 2016 – Tongyeong/ Geoje
One of the best things about working in Miryang for the GOE is that the Miryang Education Office organizes a yearly culture “workshop” for the Guest English Teachers (GET). “Workshop” is a code word for an excuse to get together, drink, and have a good time. This takes place during the week and lasts for 2 days and 1 night. Tourist attractions, meals, transportation, and accommodation is paid for by the MOE. You are also paid your regular work pay. Pretty sweet deal, right? This year we went to Tonyeong and Geoje.

Day 1

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Dara Park

We took a large charter bus to Tongyeong where we were to take the Hallyeo Waterway Observation Cable Car. Unfortunately, the wind was too strong and we had to postpone that part of our trip. Next, we went to Dara Park to watch the sunset… only the sky was hazy and the sun was nowhere to be seen. It didn’t stop us from taking in the scenery and snapping a million selfies. We ate dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant where we were served pork ribs (galbi) and beer. On our way to the hotel, we stopped at a convenience store to buy more beer and snacks.

Night 1
Our accommodation was a nice hotel. It was traditional Korean style so there were mats and pillows. Not the most comfortable bedding by Western standards. :/ There was a little kitchenette and an amazing view. We all decided to gather in one room so we could play games, drink, and chat before going to bed.

Day 2
We started the day with a buffet breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast was Western style with scrambled eggs, sausage, cereal, toast, etc. After stuffing our faces, we loaded on to a “Pleasure Boat” that took us to Hallyeohaesang National Park on Jangsado Island. It was rainy, but once again, didn’t ruin our party. The island was beautiful and led to many goofy photos and some inappropriate conversations.

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Hallyeohaesang National Park

Since our coordinator felt bad about us missing out on the cable car experience, we were rushed to see it. Up we went where we saw… nothing. It was so foggy that you couldn’t see anything but fog. At the top, the wind broke our umbrellas and our pictures showed nothing but blurry faces.

Lunch was a traditional Korean lunch that’s famous in the Tongyeong region. It’s basically a broth soup, seaweed wrapped rice, and seafood in red sauce. As tasty as it was, we were all dying for something hearty to eat and rice wasn’t cutting it.

We ended the trip at the Geoje POW Camp Historical Park. To me, this was a little odd for an attraction. It featured a lot of history, but it was also a bit insensitive if you ask me. There was an area where you could zip line to experience the terror and bravery of the prisoners who escaped and a trick eye mural where you would pretend to throw a bucket of water on to POWs that were bathing in a river. Top that off with a healthy dose of Korean propaganda (POWs were treated within the rights as set forth in the Geneva Convention. POWs had better meals than the active Korean soldiers.) and you have a tourist attraction.

The weather might not have cooperated with us for this trip, but because our group of GETs are awesome people, we still managed to have a great time. We are all really grateful to our coordinator for putting on this “workshop” for us.