Category Archives: Uncategorized

In Tokyo!

Jus a quick message to let you all know that I am in Tokyo at the moment. I will only be able to reply to any messages after the 22nd January.




Getting past SA customs


My contract ends at the end of February, so I’m starting to make arrangements for getting back home. One of the things that has been bothering me a lot is getting stopped by customs at Jo’burg International Airport (OR Tambo/Jan Smuts or whatever it’s called this week). The thing is I’ve spent quite a bit of money on some toys in Korea, including Ipods, an Ipod hifi, Nintendo DSs and an Apple MacBook.

These are pretty expensive items, so I’ve been worried that SA customs would stop me and confiscate these items, or slap me with a huge duty. And this would add up to quite a bit.

Thankfully some people mentioned that if you are a returning resident, and have been out of SA for more than six months at a stretch, you can bring back personal items without being subject to duties or tax. But the SARS website (and the SA internet in general) has so little information on these things that I was still a bit worried. So last night I phoned the SARS head office in Pretoria, my old home town (SARS is responsible for customs). I spoke to Gideon, who was really helpful, and told me without hesitation that what I had heard is true. If you have been out of SA for six months at a stretch you aren’t subject to tax or duties on any personal items that you bring with you. All you need to do, if you are stopped, is prove that you have been out of the country for that time, and that the items are for personal use.

This is easy. Your passport will have your exit stamp from when you left SA , and no subsequent entry stamp. So pretty easy to show that you haven’t been home. Also, if you bring back personal items (and I’m thinking laptops here) you can just show how bashed and used it is. Well, that’s how mine looks, anyway. So I’m not too worried about this.

Of course if you bring something back that’s brand new and still in its packaging, you may have a harder time convincing the customs guys that it’s for personal use and not resale. But for me, this isn’t a worry.

This really makes me a lot more relaxed about going home. Thankyou SARS for your clear and quick response!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope it will be a great year for all involved. I know mine will be!

My wife and I have just finished booking all our flight tickets for the coming year – to Japan, Southeast Asia and South America. It’s going to be an awesome year!

The sites going to be a bit quiet for a while. I have a Winter camp to plan to run over the next week or so, and then we’re off to Japan for a bit. But don’t lose heart – I’ll soon have a whole bunch of updates!

Merry Korean Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Geseende Kersfees to everyone, especially all the South Africans in Korea. I hope that it’s a wonderful day, despite the unChristmaslike weather. It’s not really Christmas without sunshine, sunburn, beaches, braai and watermelon, but I’m sure we’ll all make do.

And what’s Christmas without seeing the crowded beaches in Durban:

Durban Beach

GEPIK follow-up workshop 17 December 2008

On 17 December, GEPIK, in all its infinite wisdom, held a follow-up workshop for about 500 native-English teachers. I assume this was a “follow-up” to the Orientations held earlier in the year. It was a day-long event at Dankook University, on the other side of Seoul from where I live.

To summarise the workshop: a waste of time.

It took me four (4) hours to get there from my town, and about the same to get back. So let’s say eight (8) hours of travel time. This was to attend an event that lasted from 10:30 to 17:30. So eight hours travel for seven hours of workshopping. And of those seven hours, only two and a half were of any use. The rest consisted of ceremonies, lunch and Korean traditional games.

Although the event itself was a bit of a waste, it was a great chance to catch-up with some people I haven’t seen in a while. But I really feel like our time could have been better spent. I really don’t think this workshop was well thought out or implemented. At lunch, for example, there was a huge line to get food. I ended up paying for a sandwich just so that I wouldn’t have to sit in line for an hour.

The only part of the workshop that I was interested in was the talk by Darren Ng. He spoke about “Behavioral Management Essentials” – basically how to handle discipline in the classroom. Darren was entertaining, as always, though this time I didn’t find what he had to say as applicable as before at the June/July Orientation. But it was still worthwhile for some tips and tricks for later in life.

Also, the quick review of the 2009 GEPIK contract by Dain Bae was very interesting, since there are a couple of improvements. These include longer standard vacation (20 days), extra pay for non-teaching overtime work (7,000 won per hour), and a larger housing allowance (400,000 won, up from 300,000 won). Also, they have created more pay levels to differentiate different qualifications and experience. However, these changes only applies to new recruits (who obviously weren’t at the workshop) or for people renewing, which from what I heard was a small number of current teachers.

I’m just glad that this was probably the last time that I will have to attend a GEPIK event, since my contract ends in February. I’ve got some pics on my cellphone, and as soon as I can work out how to transfer these to my computer, I’ll post them.

54Beats Video

I came across this video by 54Beats about South Africans in Korea. It was made at a braai organised by SAKornet. Enjoy:

Nerine Viljoen

Nerine Viljoen, a South African teaching in Mokpo, was badly injured in a fire on 29 November. She is in intensive care in hospital. Her family and friends have asked for support during this difficult time. Here’s a link to a Facebook group with more information on how you can help: