A couple of months ago I stumbled upon the fact that South Africans are exempt from making pension fund payments in Korea. Of all the nationalities allowed to teach English here, we are the only ones that get this nice little perk. Some of the other nationalities get refunded their contributions when they leave, but most don’t, so I’m pretty grateful that I can save these bucks.
Now, the only problem has been convincing my school of the fact that I’m exempt. I don’t seem to be alone in this. I’ve seen a couple of people post similar problems on Dave’s ESL and on Facebook. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I came across a nice little guide that the Korean pension service put together to help foreigners understand their pension fund obligations. However, the pension service seems determined to keep this guide hidden away in some obscure part of their website. I came across this document purely by chance, and I’m really glad that I saved it to my harddrive. I’m sure some bureaucrat chuckles every time someone searches for that document.
In any case, earlier this week I was trying to convince my school that I don’t have to pay pension, and I was getting nowhere with them. It doesn’t help that they seem to think that I’m EXACTLY the same as their previous native English teacher. I’m not. He didn’t need a sofa. I do. He didn’t need a cellphone. I do. He was British. I’m SOUTH AFRICAN. We are NOT the same. We even had a war about this. Luckily for me, I had this guide from the National Pension Service, which is conveniently written in several languages, with the Korean and English versions on the first two pages. And SA is listed first under the section outlining which countries are exempt from paying pension. Thank goodness. You can check it out here, in the downloads section.
I printed this document out (just the relevant pages – I don’t like wasting paper), gave it to my co-teacher, she spoke to the admin people, who presumably checked with the National Pension Service, and about 15 minutes later they told me that I don’t have to pay pension. Yes. I know. Thanks for taking my word on it. But at least it is now all sorted out, and hopefully the word is spreading about our exemption from the pension fund. Viva, South Africa, viva!