Koreans start at the top. Or do they?

I woke up at 5:50. The air was clear for a change. Instead of being filled with the usual excitement that accompanies the excitement of a much needed run, I transferred my body from my bed to an armchair and snoozed for another hour or so. That preventative dose of TheraFlu last night really did a number on me!

Still, I managed my drag myself out of the embrace of my chair and into some running clothes. The run itself was a modest one (3.76 km, 23:02, 6’07″/km), but at least I gave myself the boost I needed to start my day with a clear head. Though saying I deserve congratulations may be going a bit far, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t proud of myself.

Poster for a clearing out sale at Orange Factory, Suji-Gu, Yongin.

I took a photo of this poster during my run as proof of a tendency Koreans have. When English speakers express a numerical range, they tend to do so from the lowest to highest number (ex. I’ll be there in 10-15 minutes.). Shortly after coming to Korea, I noticed Koreans expressed such numerical ranges in reverse (ex. There are 50-40 students.).

When I pointed this out to a class of elementary school teachers many years ago, they said I was wrong and claimed to express ranges just like we do. No one seemed to know what I was talking about and even giggled at my erroneous recollection. But again and again, year after year, Koreans proved me right.

I offer Exhibit A above. I point out this tendency not as something to correct (unless, perhaps, when they’re speaking English) but as a mere observation.

After too much sitting in front of the computer

Gonjiam Flute Festival 2018 is next week, and I’ve been stuck in front of the computer designing and putting together materials for printing:  banners, name tags, certificates . . . The biggest task is the camp program book.

Despite the temptation to stay chained to my desk until I’m finished, I still make it to the gym most days. I can’t imagine what I’d look and feel like if I didn’t.

Declaring tax deductions in Korea

Employees in Korea have to file their taxes by March 10. Though I learned to file my own taxes in the United States at an early age, I’ve never had to do this in Korea as our employers’ accounting offices always does it for us. If we wish to declare tax-deductions, however, it is our responsibility to turn in all necessary paperwork to our accounting offices ahead of time.

Sometimes, we miss those deadlines, which seems to be the case with a colleague of mine who messaged me the following question. I’m sharing my response in case it can be of help to someone else.

Dear Charles,
Do you know when this year’s time-frame for the declaration is? I have been waiting for messages from the University about it but yet nothing seems to have come . . .

My response:

The deadline for turning in documents for tax deductions is always in the middle of January. This year our accounting office accepted those documents from Jan. 15-19. It sounds like you missed that deadline, so our employer will have already filed your taxes for you but without deductions. If I understand your situation correctly, you should expect a smaller paycheck tan usual this month as you will probably have to pay a little extra tax.

If this is so, don’t worry. In May (until the 31st), you can go to a local tax office (I go to 용인세무서) to add (추가 신청) deduction-related documents (spending related to insurance, credit card, education, etc — all can be obtained via the National Tax Service website). It’s pretty simple, and the level of Korean needed is not very high. Also bring a copy of your tax return along with any other tax documents declaring income from other sources. They will recalculate your taxes with your deductions. They will inform you that you either owe more tax or that you have a refund coming to you. After giving them your bank info, the refund will get processed within 2-3 months.

I hope that helps!

All the best,

I’m struck by the warm, personable tone of my response. It’s a wonder I don’t have more friends.