Fair gives helping hand to new arrivalsNewly arrived foreigners in Seoul may have a lot of worries. Without Korean language skills, simple tasks like getting a haircut or ordering food that won't burn the tongue off become intimidating ordeals that can make one want to hide in the apartment.
The Seoul Help Center for Foreigners aimed to make expat life less scary with their Information Fair Saturday at City Hall.
Present at the fair, at booths arranged in a crescent along the lawn, were 42 organizations to fulfill newcomers' every need, be they physical, social, medical, spiritual, educational or political.
For active types, Logixnow gave a demonstration of its dance program and SooBahk International showed off its martial arts. This newspaper was available for free. Foreigners could even check their blood pressure measurement at the Kangnam St. Mary’s Hospital booth or get a free on-the-spot spinal exam from Dr. Phillip Yoo of Itaewon Chirohealth Center.
Praise for the fair was almost unanimous among visitors, but booth operators were disappointed at the low turnout, and some found themselves shooing away Korean schoolgirls looking for free candy rather than welcoming actual foreigners.
“Last year we had at least 30 to 50 people, but this time we barely did 10,” said Dr. Yoo. “There’s more foreigners in Seoul than this. There’s good information here, but if people don’t know about it there’s no way they can come.”
by Ben Applegate
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