Winding it down

I guess the big news is that Jee Yeun had her visa interview.  For those of you who have been following along, I applied for a fiancee visa in January 2012.  So, don’t let anyone tell you the wheels of big government turn slow or that bureaucracies are otherwise inefficient.

Our appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul was at 0800 on what was the coldest day of the coldest winter in recent history.  The night before I had meticulously placed the voluminous stack of documents in the precise order dictated by the Department of State.  So I was feeling pretty confident when our number was called to approach the intake window.  (I mistakenly thought the 0800 appointment was our own private time.  Instead, there were 30 or so other folks waiting to be processed in turn).

Anyway, the gal at the window (appeared Korean, but had American-bureaucrat attitude) thumbs through the documents at an amazing rate of speed and starts throwing all the ones requiring signatures back at us with a blunt “sign this”.  Now, my bad but when I see an indication that you are swearing to the truth of the document you are signing, it has normally been required that you sign in front of someone, like you know, after you’ve raised your right hand and all that.  Anyway, no big deal, we signed and shoved them back.

Meanwhile, Ms. Friendly (not her real name) had found a problem with Jee Yeun’s police record.  The problem as best as I could ascertain was that she didn’t have one.  Our duly certified statement from the Korean National Police indicated that Jee Yeun had never been arrested or otherwise ran afoul of the law.  The unfriendly Ms. Friendly said that wasn’t good enough.  The document also had to say that the crimes she hadn’t committed had never been expunged from her non-existent criminal record.  It took me awhile to get my mind around that one, but Ms. Friendly had tabbed the offending document in yellow and thrown it back at us, so that was that.

Next came the fingerprint scanning which went well seeing as how Jee Yeun had all ten of those in the proper places and order.  Then she was given a two page document (written in Korean) to read.  I asked what it was and she said that I have to be nice to her or she can call 911.  I said, quit kidding around, what does it say?  Turns out, that is what it said.  I can’t beat her, abuse her, fail to feed her or get her medical attention, and that I have to make her feel loved.  Or she can call the law on me.  Is America a great country or what?

Finally, we were called for the long awaited interview.  A blond-haired, blue-eyed, red-blooded American consular official with a surprisingly pleasant disposition had us raise our right hands and swear that everything we said in those documents we had signed earlier was true and correct.  We did so swear.  Then he asked a couple cursory questions regarding the circumstances of our meeting and the depth of our relationship.  Apparently satisfied that we weren’t engaging in a sham marriage to defeat Uncle Sam’s notoriously strict immigration laws *cough*, he asked Jee Yeun if she had read and understood the paper she had been given.  Jee Yeun said yes.  He said that he wanted to be sure she knew that if I ever abused her in any way that she could call the authorities.   He assured her that even as a non-citizen, she had rights.  At this point he must have noticed the incredulous look on my face because he smiled and said, “don’t worry, you have rights too.”  Well, ok then.

The consular guy then announced that he was going to approve the visa.  But there was still the matter of Jee Yeun’s criminal record to resolve.  He told us if we hustled down to the Jongno police station they could provide the double triple negative report required by embassy standards.  Jee Yeun asked about the translation and he told her she could translate it herself.  And so we cabbed out and back, translated and submitted the police report and we were assured Jee Yeun’s passport with visa attached would arrive within 3 to 5 business days by courier.  WooHoo!

Last night I bartered and bargained with Delta Airlines for two one way tickets back to Columbia.  Didn’t get the flights or the price I wanted.  In fact, I pretty much got hosed.  But, we now have tickets in hand and will arrive in South Carolina on the 17th of February.  Or so I am led to believe.

The year in pictures

Why?  Why the hell not?

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January 1 found us in New Bern, NC staying aboard the sailboat Second Chance with my friends from high school, Rod and Pat Headlee.

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February carried us back in Korea and this is the view from our new apartment.  Right on top of the Gireum station subway stop which is definitely a good thing.

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March provided the opportunity to make a little fast cash with a second place finish in the Seoul International Dart League mid-season tournament.  That’s my British partner Sam “T-Rex” Hayward on the right.

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April found us on the west coast at Daechon Beach.  We encountered some poor service at a local eatery so I demonstrated for a friend’s young son the appropriate way to express dissatisfaction.

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May brought better food and service at Tabom, a Brazilian steak house in Itaewon.

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June saw the crowning of the Ride it In dart team from Pub Dolce Vita as the SIDL “B” Division champions.  L-R Head cheerleader and keeper of the stats Jee Yeun Lee, Captain Bridget Werner from Texas, a fat guy from South Carolina, Louisianan Jacob Leonard, our token Canadian Cory Clow, and Greg “The Cobra” White of Bawl-Mor, Maryland.

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July took us back to the USA and saw Jee Yeun being a traditional Korean grandmother by providing instruction to granddaughter Sydney on womanly responsibilities…

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August brought us to Memphis, TN, my dad’s home town.  This is where we deposited his earthly cremains into the muddy Mississippi river.

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September 23 saw my granddaughter Sydney celebrate her first birthday in the traditional Korean hanbok.  She didn’t quite know what the fuss was all about…

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October brought us back to Korea once again and we journeyed out to the East Sea to enjoy the views from Naksana, a Buddhist Temple.

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November calls for a feast and we had one with my Korean in-laws…

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December took us to Osaka, Japan for a couple of days and provided a visa extension for yours truly.

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Th-Th-Th That’s All Folks!  Happy New Year!