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Visiting Korea on a Tourist Visa

 
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Kionon



Joined: 21 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:10 am    Post subject: Visiting Korea on a Tourist Visa Reply with quote

I want to visit friends in Korea over Christmas/New Years, but I am concerned about my legal status:

In 2007 I took a position at a hagwon in Seoul. The situation wasn't nearly as bad as the worst horror stories I'd read (and didn't believe), but it was way worse than I ever imagined it could really be. After six months of theft (from me and from the Korean Revenue Service), verbal abuse, "mandatory" drinking/eating "meetings" where my bosses would get drunk and rail about conspiracy theories involving the Japanese and the Jews (not making this up), and threats about getting me arrested for violation of my contract if I refused to take the abuse, I did a midnight runner for Japan. Where, aside from a brief stint working on my MA, I have been ever since, most of it in the same position.

I had a pretty dim view of midnight runners before I moved to Korea, and I have a pretty dim view of them in Japan. However, given my experiences, I don't think I had much of a choice. My employers told me (most definitely false, I know now) that they could always call ahead to immigration and have me detained if I tried to quit. So I didn't tell them, packed up everything in the middle of the night, and was on my way out of the country by 5AM. I had already secured a position in Japan.

I did not surrender my ARC, I did not tell immigration I was leaving for anything other than vacation. When I got to Japan, I ended up going back to Korea, to the Japanese consulate, to get my Japanese visa. I entered on my ARC (with the US Consulate on speed dial just in case), got the visa, turned right around and left on my ARC, again not telling immigration. I have not set foot in Korea since. It was just a normal one year E-1 visa, and I've gathered from coworkers that at no point did they ever report me to immigration because the hagwon folded not long after I left.

I have no idea where my ARC is (I think it's in a box in the US somewhere), but it is, obviously long expired. I am still on the same passport, so my visa is clearly there (on the first page no less), even though obviously it too is long expired. All I want to do is be a tourist for two weeks and visit some friends, but I'm worried about being detained and grilled by Korean immigration. I don't care about being refused entry; I have long term residency in Japan, I can turn around and head right back on the next ferry, but I am deathly afraid of ending up in some sort of prison or stockade while waiting to be deported.

How reasonable are my fears?
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young_clinton



Joined: 09 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Detained on account of your ARC? I don't think so. The worst that could happen is you could be fined 100 US when you come (unlikely). They most likely will ask you where it is at, and after you tell them you lost it then give you a 4 second lecture on how you're supposed to turn the ARC in when you leave and are not coming back for a while and stamp your passport with a 3 month entrance stamp.

P.S. Make sure that you don't remove the tag off your mattress that says "Don't remove under penalty of law". Laughing
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Kionon



Joined: 21 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

young_clinton wrote:
Detained on account of your ARC? I don't think so. The worst that could happen is you could be fined 100 US when you come (unlikely). They most likely will ask you where it is at, and after you tell them you lost it then give you a 4 second lecture on how you're supposed to turn the ARC in when you leave and are not coming back for a while and stamp your passport with a 3 month entrance stamp.


Detained on account of I have no idea because everything I was told about Korean labor and immigration law was filtered through my insane bosses. I didn't think much at all beyond getting the heck out of dodge because in Korea the visas are tied to your jobs, lose the job, lose the visa. This doesn't happen in Japan. Your visa is yours. Sorry, bluntly put, I didn't really investigate very closely.

(Also, I speak Japanese, I do not speak Korean, and such was true at the time).

In fairness, I know my ARC is at my parents' house in a box. I just don't know which one. It's not lost.
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heather.n.elmer



Joined: 15 Oct 2012

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In February 2010 I entered the country on my 2nd teaching visa; however, as soon as I arrived my circumstances changed and I left the country a few weeks later (I never actually started the job). While I did inform the school immediately, they never reported it to immigration and I didn't cancel my visa when I left.

I returned to Korea for 6 weeks at the end of 2010. Upon my arrival, immigration pulled me aside because I was trying to enter Korea on a tourist visa instead of my technically still active teaching visa.

After spending 20 minutes in the immigration office, they voided my visa and gave me the 3 month tourist stamp. Honestly, it was hilarious. The biggest problem was they couldn't understand why I was just visiting and didn't want to teach with my visa. Lots of "So you don't want to teach...why?"

They did ask for my ARC and I told them I didn't have it. I think they might have also called the school to see if I was actually working their or not.

All in all it wasn't a big deal at all and immigration was very nice about the whole thing. I don't think you have anything to worry about.
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young_clinton



Joined: 09 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't worry Kionan. You're E2 Visa is long since cancelled. I doubt if Immigration gives you hardly any trouble at all. Certainly not enough to think about not enjoying a beautiful vacation in South Korea.

Given your anxiety level over this, I hope you will be well prepared if you ever try to make a trip to Indonesia. Unlike Korean immigration, Indonesian immigration is the scum of the earth.
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If your previous E2 was canceled or has since expired you have no worry returning as a tourist.

.
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