Expat help center unfurls carpet

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Expat help center unfurls carpet

Need a job? A good read? How about tips from someone in-the-know ― in your language ― on renting an apartment, seeing a doctor or finding the best bus route from home to office?
These and many more services for expatriates are provided at the new Seoul Help Center for Foreigners, which opened last month in an annex behind City Hall.
Events aimed at familiarizing foreigners with the city are on tap for August 12, starting with free tickets to the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival.
The event entitled, “Experience Seoul” events, will take place at City Hall and at the COEX exhibition center in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
Drinks, snacks and transportation to the event is free.
Once the hoopla ends, the center staff will focus on their principal tasks, such as running an online job search Web site for foreigners, found at http://jobs.seoul.go.kr.
“Right now there are only a few Web sites that provide job information for foreigners,” says Choi Byung-hoon, coordinator at the Seoul Help Center. “Our data is always up-to-date, which makes it easier for foreigners to find a current job opening.” Foreigners are also invited to post their resumes online, for Korean company officials to review.
Mr. Choi noted, however, that for the Seoul Help Center job database to be effective it needs the participation of both job seekers and employers.
As part of the Help Desk staff’s mission of smoothing foreigners’ lives in Seoul, they will operate a toll-free hotline at 080-731-0911, in English, Chinese and Japanese. Operators will answer callers’ questions on life in Seoul and dispense tips on such topics as finding appropriate health care, obtaining a driver’s license and registering children in schools.
The opening of the help center coincides with the beginning of demolition of a highway over the Cheonggye stream downtown, which is expected to increase traffic at certain times and places. That project, however, is pegged as part of Seoul’s reinvention as an environmentally friendly metropolis since the stream’s health will be restored and pedestrian walkways will be constructed, and city officials appear eager to capitalize on that movement with more services for foreigners.
Assistance to foreign investors planning to establish or expand businesses in Seoul will also be provided by Seoul Help Center staff, who can also direct inquiries to the appropriate authorities. Additionally, the Seoul Help Center features a library with some foreign-language publications, reams of travel brochures and free Internet access.
Those wishing more information can go to the Seoul Help Center Web site, http://shc.seoul.go.kr starting September, or phone (02) 731-6802. The center hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

by Lee Ho-jeong
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