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JeongHeon Cho

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JeongHeon Cho experienced the frustrations of setting up a new life in Japan after moving there from South Korea to study. Transactions which were simple back home and came naturally to Japanese were confusing to an outsider unfamiliar with the system and the language.

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0:04:50

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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I was born in Korea and lived my whole life there before coming to Japan when I was 21. Before coming to Japan I did study Japanese but I was never been to Japan before that. My Japanese was not that good to communicate in daily life as well. As a result, I had many difficulties living in Japan at first.

Due to the contract of my house in Japan, I came to Japan a month earlier before the start of school. I did not have a phone, bank account or internet. My Japanese skill was not good enough to handle all those problems, so I needed someone to help me with those. So I asked one of my friend who was good at Japanese to help me out. At first, we went to a bank to make a bank account. However, I could not make the account at the bank as they said I need my phone number to make one. We headed to one of the mobile phone company to get a phone. However, at the mobile phone company, they did not let me have a phone there as they said they need a Japanese bank account to make a phone there. I was so confused. I needed a phone number to make a bank account, but I needed a bank account to make a phone. As my friend had his own schedule and I really needed one of those to start my life in Japan, I tried to find on my own.

I found out that Japan post bank had Korean workers so I went there to ask what to do in my situation. Surprisingly, they did not need a phone number to make a bank account for Japan post bank. Happily, I tried to make a bank account, hoping this vicious circle would end. However, it turned out that I could only make a bank account in the branch office of the region that I lived. I had to go to the branch office in the region where I lived to make a bank account in Japan post bank. I was so depressed. As soon as I thought I found a way out of this situation there was another problem. I headed to Japan post bank in the city that I lived the next day. Finally, I made my bank account. I asked my friend to help me getting a phone one more time and finally, I got my phone. After getting my phone, I asked my friend to make a call for the internet company as I did not have it installed in my house. The company said they would send an engineer in 2 weeks to install the internet in my room. I had to wait another 2 weeks.

In Korea, making a phone, bank accounts, all the process was easy and fast. Everything was so simple and most of them were done in one day or two. There were no complications, strict rules about opening a bank account and making a phone. Also, for the internet installment, I did not have to wait for 2 weeks to get them. It seemed like Japan concentrating on the strict process too much that it makes customers endure inconvenience. Works done in an administrative agency was also too slow as well, as I had to wait a month more after the expected time of issue of my visa. Focusing on paper documents and the strict process is not a bad thing. Those works are to make things secure and safe in case of some unexpected incidents. However, as a foreigner, I could not understand the system of Japan at first. These days? I am perfectly adjusted to Japanese style. I prepare everything that I need for some important contracts, such as my passport, ID card, insurance card, seal. Also, I always go to the office or bank as early as possible knowing that it is going to take longer than the time I expected. By changing my lifestyle to Japanese style, I am not feeling any inconvenience any more.