Caren . . .

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2011 at 8:17 am

In the United States if you buy a used car with a three-inch high stack of $10 and $50 dollar bills, you’re a drug dealer.  In Korea, if you buy a used car with a three-inch high stack of 10,000 and 50,000 KRW notes, you’re just another guy buying a used car.

Meet the 2004 Kia Carens Etrex Edition.  The little Stockdales and I call her Caren.  She may not be much, but she’s got a third row of seats and she’s a diesel.

The folks at TopGear.com had an extremely accurate opinion of the Kia Carens. 

They also said the name was ‘stupid’ in another part of the review.

After not driving for almost two years, it was fairly easy to pick back up.  That said, there really aren’t any ‘rules’ to driving in Korea.  There are some ‘suggestions’, but I would always refer to them as ‘voluntary’ or ‘optional’ not ‘mandatory’ or ‘enforced.’

If you want to run the red light, run the red light.  If you want to double park, double park.  If you want to drive across the sidewalk instead of waiting for the light to turn green, go ahead.  The main point, is don’t hit anything.  As long as you don’t hit another car, a person, or a guy on a scooter overloaded with sheet metal, no one cares what you do.

The only part of driving the Koreans do take very seriously is the process of getting your driver’s license. 

First, you have to go to the US Embassy and have your Kansas driver’s license notarized.  This is basically a note from your mother that says your driver’s license is actually a driver’s license.  When you get there, you take a number that I unfortunately discarded and wait about 10 minutes.

Second, go to the second floor of the Korean DMV and get a number that I unfortunately discarded.  Don’t forget to bring your Kansas driver’s license, your Korean Alien Registration Card, your passport, and three color photographs.  Thankfully, they have a special line for foreigners where the nice lady speaks ‘English’.  Now wait 10 minutes for the nice lady behind the counter to tell you the note from your mother is wrong.

Third, return to the US Embassy a week later for another note from your mother.  This time, wait 10 minutes and keep the number for your stupid website.

Fourth, return to the second floor of the Korean DMV and take a number.  Wait 15 minutes.  See the same nice lady who rejected the previous note from your mother and breathe a sign of relief when she begins handing you random forms written in Korean.

Fifth, take the random forms to the ‘arts and crafts’ table where you cut your three color photographs to the correct size, glue them to the appropriate spots on the form and guess at where you are supposed to sign it.

Sixth, go downstairs to the ‘revenue counter’ and buy a 6,000 KRW (that’s $6 USD in metric) stamp and affix it to the appropriate place on the form.

Seventh, take another number to see the nice lady.  Wait 15 minutes.  She will look at your form, tape over the three color photographs where you carefully glued them down and tell you to go run down and buy another stamp from the ‘revenue counter’ because you needed two and then to go to basement and give someone 4,000 KRW (that’s $4 USD in metric).  She will also take your Kansas driver’s license and keep it for you in a safe place.  If you go back to Kansas, you need to revisit the nice lady to get it back or just tell the Kansas DMV you lost it and they will give you a new one if you have your birth certificate, proof of address, and a note from your mother.

Eighth, go to the basement and stand behind all the other people waiting to give money to someone at a desk.  After you give your money to the lady, blindly follow all the other people into a room where you stand in line for 10 minutes waiting for a ‘doctor’ in a white coat to ask you to read an eye chart.  If you are Korean you also need to take a hearing test and squat to prove you are physically fit.  If you are American they know we are fat and don’t listen, so they let us skip this part.

Ninth, return to the second floor and get another number to see the nice lady.  Only wait five minutes for her to tell you need to get in the Korean only line to take the most pointless written driver’s examination ever administered.  Lose the number and another pointless gag for your website.

Tenth, get a number and wait almost an hour for another nice lady to stamp a box on your form so you can go to the fourth floor and take the most pointless written driver’s examination ever administered.

Eleventh, don’t bother studying Korean traffic law, go to the fourth floor and take the most pointless written driver’s examination ever administered.  Surprisingly, you don’t have to wait.

Twelfth, take another number and wait 5 minutes to show the nice lady you scored an 80 on your test.  An 80 is passing.  (I have no clue if that is a good score or if I almost failed.)  At this point you just want to leave.  She tells you to come back in 20 minutes to get your license.  You seriously comtemplate finding a bar.

Thirteenth, instead of getting a DUI on the way home, play Angry Birds for twenty minutes and then the nice lady calls you and hands you your Korean driver’s license.  Drive home from the DMV, the same way you’d been driving for the last six weeks.

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