Happy Lunar New Year and Happy St. Valentine’s Day to one and all: the year of the tiger is now upon us. Will the occasion of these two celebrations falling on the same day result in a record number of marriage proposals this weekend? Only time will tell. There is no doubting the significance of Lunar New Year here though. We are in the middle of a national holiday lasting several days, the yard is virtually closed, the island is deserted and people have travelled all over Korea to visit their families. When it comes to strength of tradition and length of traffic jam, Lunar New Year is of a similar magnitude to Chuseok.
In the midst of this, I have been provided with further moments to reflect upon the joys of matching and hatching. Tomorrow we will be attending the first birthday party of the daughter of friends and shopping for a present last week was an other reminder that a family of my own should be started before too long.
The Korean immigration authorities have been helping me along in slightly different manner. As the anniversary of our arrival in this country approaches, Leyla and I have to renew our visas. While we both arrived with work visas, Leyla now requires a family visa instead which demands proof of marriage to be demonstrated.
Previously this has been no problem as we possess a valid marriage certificate and a legally endorsed translation thereof; a combination that has been happily accepted in the UK and in Norway. Here we are expected to produce two certificates – one from each country – something that we think might be related to the way in which British-Korean marriages require papers from both sides.
This has caused a bit of a stir. The current position after two weeks’ discussion involving the immigration office here, the British embassy in Seoul and the British embassy in Baku is that I have to send the original marriage certificate plus copies of our passports plus a fee to the Embassy in Seoul so that they can write some sort of letter based upon information they have received from Baku to satisfy their inquiries. This letter should appease the immigration office.
In the meantime, we both received automated text messages on the first of February reminding us that our visas were expiring at the end of the month (a bit spooky) and we both received letters in the post a few days later saying the same.
Circumstantially, we need to be in England very soon anyway but it would be good to have the papers in hand for a legal return to Korea rather than find ourselves feeling semi-deported. Once the Lunar New Year holiday has finished we should be able to get things sorted and quickly. We hope. Watch this space.