Friday, May 21, 2010

Need Help? Welcome to the Seoul Global Center

It’s not hard to imagine how tough it must be living in a foreign country where you are not familiar with the people, the culture, the environment, the language….just about everything.

As a foreign resident (or visitor) in Korea, where can you turn to when you have some baffling situations or difficulties?

There is the Seoul Global Center (SGC)

Seoul, like New York and Tokyo, is rapidly turning into a cosmopolis where people from numerous different countries and cultures live together. And a lot of big and small troubles arise as a result of that. Moreover, since Korea is not an English-speaking country, foreigners have to deal with many language-related inconveniences.

What makes the Seoul Global Center special?

Open from 9 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Fri), the SGC provides a wide range of services from business consultations, various educational courses and international exchange events, to comprehensive administrative services.

Mr. Kim Sang-Yong of the International Exchange Department says, “What distinguishes the Seoul Global Center the most is its comprehensive administrative services. It is the only one-stop service organization in Korea, offering services related to visa, immigration, banking, mobile phone registration and many others.”

If you take a look at the inside of the center, you can spot booths devoted to Korea Exchange Bank and LG Telecom.

Ms. Pitman from the U.S. who was having a consultation at the mobile phone section commented, “The biggest difficulty I face living in Korea is, expectedly, language.

Seoul Global Center has been an immense help in that regard. I’d like to introduce this organization to many other foreigners in Korea. I’m really satisfied with its services.”

She says that she came to Korea six months ago and that apart from communication problems Korea feels like her second homeland. She also adds, “It will be great if the center offers more Korean language classes.”

How do I make use of the SGC?

The Seoul Global Center offers services in six languages. For day-to-day living issues, consultations are offered in English, Chinese, and Japanese, and for multicultural issues, Mongolian, Vietnamese, and Tagalog are additionally available.

The SGC doesn’t stop at simply providing consultations. It also holds Seoul Town Meetings with the advisory committees on living and business, other experts and policy executors, where they listen to international residents’ ideas on living in Seoul and their experiences. The suggestions brought up at the meetings are reflected in the creation of municipal policies and initiatives to support foreigners.

Practical consulting services

The SGC offers classes on company founding and operation, business expansion, employment, trade industry, food service industry and other areas. In addition, professionals in various fields, including lawyers, accountants, realtors and labor attorneys, offer more in-depth, tailored consultations for advice and counsel.

And then there is On-site Consultation. A batch of staff composed of experts in state pension, health insurance, labor, telecom, and many other fields visit areas with high concentrations of foreign residents and workers and provide package consultation services. Last year, the consultation was offered about 30 times on the weekends, and this year, the SGC aims at increasing it to 50 times. Foreigners find this service extremely helpful.

The Seoul Global Center, 2 years since foundation

Mr. Kim of the International Exchange Department comments, “Facility like the SGC is especially essential in non-English-speaking countries. But I have yet to find another country that provides services as high-quality and thorough as ours. Even in Japan, for instance, there isn’t a facility that offers the kind of comprehensive administrative services that the SGC provides. The SGC is currently registered on the list for the U.N. Public Service Awards.”

Kim goes on to say, “I’m proud that our center is offering great support for foreigners living in Korea. We are going to further improve our services by expanding Koreans-foreigners exchange programs.”

Hope the Seoul Global Center sets a role model worldwide for one-stop service organization for foreigners!

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