Thursday, 22 August 2013

Back to the blog

For the last two, two and a half years I haven't updated this blog much. I went back home to England after a long time away and really did very little to merit writing about or even posting pictures of. I enjoyed my time back home greatly but my wife and I have moved out of the country again. For how long we can't say.

Anyway I hope to get back to posting even if it's only on a semi-regular basis. When I posted previously, I felt like I was posting too many negative things or voicing my frustration on-line so I aim to try and be more upbeat! I recently got a good smart phone, my first new phone this millennium so I am able to take pictures on the go. Back to the blog.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Chasing MP's for pension answers

This week I decided to return to the forlorn quest of my 'missing pension' money from Korea. I wrote letters to two MP's, my local MP and also to the head of the government Department for Work and Pensions. I will not mention his name such is my disdain for his transparent crusade. I have little to no expectations but I basically asked three simple questions, Is there any way that I can receive my pension? Why is there no pensions agreement between the UK and South Korea? Are there any plans to reach a pensions agreement with South Korea?

My previous experience of writing to politicians here has been mixed but I have always received a reply, even if it was written by an underling. My previous attempts to get some answers in Korea came to nothing but I don't blame the people I spoke to there, it would be nice just to get something official in English. I will post any replies I get however short they are.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Dealing with the UK Border Agency part 3

It really helps when they answer your call. I have just got off the phone from the UK Border Agency with much better results than last month and earlier this week. The man I spoke to was able to confirm some facts and gave correct information on things that we were unsure of. For example, applying in person will cost £1377 but 90% of these cases are settled within 24 hours - figures verified by who though?

When I mentioned that a previous call ended in the woman I spoke to putting the phone down on me he actually apologised. I will ring back again nearer the time should we decide to follow through with the application. We still need more information on the process and my wife would have to take the Life in the UK Test. For now we have some thinking to do. As always, money may dictate how things go but life in the UK may not be what it once was.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Dealing with the UK Border Agency part 2

This process does not get any easier. I've made several calls to the UK Border Agency today over the past three hours or so and each time I have reached the very end of the options you have to choose from only to hear the following message, "All of our telephone operators are currently busy and you will have to telephone back if you wish to speak to us." And then the line cuts out. They are not even putting me on hold any more. I will keep trying I guess.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Dealing with the UK Border Agency part 1

In a few months time my wife's visa will run out. We are currently going through the process of a) finding out how re-application goes b) whether or not we want to apply for a new visa. The visa process for the UK is both infuriating and stressful. I fully understand why the procedure has to be thorough but it is labyrinthian in it's complexity. Things are never easy here any more especially as the right wing press have spread fear over immigration numbers and benefit payments so the government has made immigration to the UK even harder.

I've just spent fifteen minutes on hold to the UK Border Agency (not a free phone number obviously) listening to a loop of one Mozart composition. When I finally got through my line was not totally clear but good enough to understand and be understood. I had a list of questions which I wanted to ask and the first words the lady said were, "We're here to answer your questions."

The reason for our questions is that the procedure is almost certainly designed to be just complex enough to put people off. Worded in such a way that clarity is there yet not clear enough to be certain enough of understanding. If there are any errors in the application then flat out you won't get your visa and won't be refunded the £1,000 plus it cost you and you almost certainly won't be told why your application failed.

My line was a bit crackly as I gave the lady I spoke to the name of the visa I was asking about. She asked me what the name of the form for the application was. Of course, my fault I didn't know but as I was supplying the name of the actual visa I thought it would be clear enough. After minutes of going backwards and forwards and restating that the line wasn't crystal clear, the lady put the phone down on me. Thank you very much for nothing UK Border Agency but I will return and get my questions answered. I just never want to hear Eine Kleine Nachtmusik again.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Escaped North Korean propaganda artist video on his US exhibition

Propaganda posters are still with us and take many forms though their appearance has changed over the years. When I see North Korean propaganda artwork I often feel like I am looking at the same painting again and again. I found this video today on the BBC website about a North Korean defector responsible for some of the artwork over the last few years who now uses the canvas for a different purpose.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Curse you immoral Eggnog latte!

I'm no fan of Starbucks. I find their coffee weak, overly milky and poor value. Indeed it is the coffee that coffee lovers don't generally drink. The recent tax controversy brackets them along with Amazon, Google, Facebook and others as massive companies who, though doing nothing illegal tax-wise are exploiting tax loopholes that are at best immoral and massively out of step with public opinion. People here have overwhelmingly voiced their anger and distaste with this especially in these austere times. But of course nobody is surprised that they are all doing this. So, in general it is the last place I'd go for a coffee. Unless it's an Eggnog Latte.

Eggnog isn't really commonplace here in the UK and I'd associate it with North America. I think the first time I'd heard of it was in an Hollywood film. Many of my former Canadian colleagues said they missed it at Christmas time so one year in Korea I tried to make it. I can honestly say I'd never drank scrambled eggs until then and so bad was the drink/meal I'd concocted that I won't be repeating my mistake again. Despite this I find myself drawn to the Starbucks Eggnog Latte and liking it. With mixed emotions I will probably buy this every now and then until the festive period is over before going back to avoiding Starbucks once more just as Starbucks enthusiastically avoids paying moral levels of corporation tax.
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