Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Call Service for Foreigners Launches

For a number of years Koreans have been on hand at Government call centers for foreigners who are having difficulty communicating with Koreans and the Government. With their friendly greeting, "여보세요? 도와 드릴까요?" many foreign problems have been dealt with quickly and efficiently. But now - in a bid to help ensure foreigners integrate further - the Government will start phoning foreign residents at random times twice a week, rather than waiting for them to call the Government.

A trial of the new "Happy Call Service for Foreigners" began two months ago although due to a press release error it was branded a great success a day earlier. "Many foreigners don't receive proper information about their life" explained a Government spokesman, "but we hope to be able to tell them how to live it in Korea."

As part of the new proactive assistance policy, the service is now operating in five additional languages, English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Mongolian, although for efficiency most of the Vietnamese calls are made separately by the police.

"I was like, dude, that's so cool the Government cares about me man." said Zack, a British recipient of the calls. "They're like, 'What are you doing?', and I'm like 'Just hanging with my buddies', and they're like 'Don't you have a class to teach in the morning?' and I'm like 'whoa, yeah thanks man, like totally slipped my mind.'"

Some recipients in the trial have said their Government contacts, who prefer the term 'handlers', have almost become friends, even if they don't give their names. "Once I switched off Arirang and the phone immediately started ringing." explained another recipient. "Of course, my handler asked me why I'd switched off Arirang - I explained it was because I was going to bed early and they said that was OK. It's nice to know the Government cares."

Later this year, the Government hopes to introduce a mobile phone element to the service, complimenting the Happy Call Service with a "Happy Tracking Service" so that foreigners get the most out of their time in Korea. "Sedition sometimes comes in small packages, such as turning up late for work... sabotaging efficiency." said a Government spokesman, "This will allow us to ensure foreigners don't make this mistake."

Any foreigner not being called more than once a week by the Government should check in with the call center by dialing '120' from their phones or visiting the website at, ignoring any false spyware installation messages.

Related Links
Dasan Call Center to phone foreigners
Man is charged with killing his Vietnamese wife
Murder of Vietnamese woman sparks legal changes
Korea Must Beware of Growing Crime by Foreigners
Korean Society the Fifth 'Tightest in the World'

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