Interview at the Consulate


Well, this morning was my interview at the Korean Consulate.

All Americans who are going to Korea on an E-2 (teacher work visa) are required to have a face to face interview at the consulate the first time they go. Visas can be renewed later withot this interview.

For me, this meant going down to Atlanta, GA, since that's the nearest consulate to me. I had to call a couple of weeks in advance and set up an appointment for my interview, which apparently are usually done in groups of about 6 people at a time once a day at 11 a.m. The Korean Consulate is located in downtown Atlanta on the fifth floor of the International Tower on Peachtree Street.

When I arrived at about 10:15, I was asked to sign in and was given a packet of materials that should be helpful when I get to Korea. It includes a travel guide, a guide to Korean culture, and a guide to Korea food in addition to some other materials. There were already couple of others in the small waiting area waiting for their interview as well. We sat and chatted until they took us back to a conference room at about 11.

In the conference room, another couple of individuals joined us and we all discussed what cities we would be in, what we'd learned so far about Korea, etc. After a few minutes the Consul joined us and was getting ready to start when another couple (boyfriend/girlfriend) joined us as well bringing the total up to 9 of us. Apparently, they had just arrived back in the US over the weekend and were scheduled to fly out to Korea on Wednesday so they had not had time to schedule an appointment in advance.

The Consul was obviously not pleased with that and gave everyone a lecture on the fact that work visas are not guaranteed to be awarded and that it was very difficult for someone from Korea to get a work visa for the United States. Throughout the group interview, he repeated emphasized how people are going to work in Korea just to make money because the American economy is struggling. He went around the room asking each of us questions about our qualifications and reasons for wanting to go to Korea. He particularly grilled most of the younger teachers who had just finished college about why they wanted to go teach English instead of work in the fields in which they had gotten their degree. All in all, it seemed to be a lot of posturing... typical of a culture where "face" is very much an issue. The purpose of it seemed to be to emphasize the value of Korean culture-- particularly to those who may have "ugly American" syndrome.

Altogether, the group interview lasted about an hour so we wrapped up right about noon. We were then instructed to go back to the waiting area where one of the ladies sorted through our paperwork to determine who would be picking up their passport/visa tomorrow and who wanted them mailed. Those of us who will be picking up our passports tomorrow were advised we would be able to do so any time after 11am. (The Consul had made a passing comment about "24 hours" so apparently there is some kind of mandatory 24 hour waiting time).

The overall experience was fine. Nothing spectactular really one way or the other... although I don't think some of the younger teachers really under why the Consul was acting as he was.

Soooo... now I just have to pick up my passport tomorrow... get my ticket... and away I go...


Dana August 25, 2009 at 10:13 PM  

Rick, I was just speaking of you to Dirk. You're in Atlanta? And you didn't call me? Do you still have my cell number? Send me a message on facebook if you'd like to get together. Amazing plan, Rick...amazing! Dana

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Rick is an English teacher currently living and working in Seoul, South Korea. If you have any questions about life in Korea, feel free to email:

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