A lot of transitions at the end of the year – and I am on a long flight – so a more narrative that usual.
First, we decided not to renew my contract, so my time in Seoul ends in mid-January. My next job will require more travel, but I will be based at home in Kentlands and travel will be in U.S. and Europe so home (hopefully) much more than prior 2 years. Sharon and I are excited….been 21 years since we lived together with no kids (fortunately the girls don’t read the blog).
Second – Several senior Korean co-workers were let go – although 98% of Korean workers are protected, once you get to a certain level, the end of the year brings a 30% cut in senior positions. Two of my closest friends are transitioning to their next adventure – one happily and one still looking to make a mark and I wish them both well and I am sure our paths will cross in the future.
Third – End of the year parties – we had planned a different type of team building before I decided not to stay (and when I found out the release of Star Wars was 18-Dec) – dinner with families and movie night. First time many of the spouses had met co-workers – in 20 years….not the Korean way. But very well received and it was great for me to me the families of my co-workers. One of my co-workers said in a toast – “I used to think that Mr. Jarrett was very smart – but now I realize that he is just old and seen all of these situations before”. More truth than us old people would like to admit.
Lastly – A wedding. Fortunately for me, not just a random wedding I had to attend, but the wedding of a co-worker. She is one of the translators and we were all very happy for her. Because most Expats had gone home, I went by myself. Somehow leaving an hour early to a place 6 miles away, I was late (traffic). I knew it was a wedding hall, but didn’t know that 7 weddings started at 3pm on 7 different levels. I was told 6th level (each level 3 stories –like hotel ballroom – so 21 stories total of wedding floors) and as I walked in, a very attractive couple was featured on a huge poster – but not my friend. So asked again and told 4th level – the elevator was locked out for brides at this point. So raced down 6 floors to find the 4th level was wrong level. Asked again, and then up 3 floors. Sat just as she came down the aisle with her father. Same song as western. Her first selected song was the same song as at our wedding (with the Pastor singing Korean lyrics). Each level had a different theme – jungle, old city, and my friend chose “Grace” which was like a church except instead of pews there were banquet tables. It has an overhead HD camera (like at a sporting event) and multiple screens to watch. Had about one hour of sermon and hymns in Korean and then the “I do” in Korean. The couple then left down the aisle to people throwing the equivalent of rice – then turned around and went back on stage and the audience acted as if they left. So while they were going through the agony of pictures, we all ate. Then various groups were invited up for pictures, I fell into the random co-worker group. They left and changed clothes to greet the guests – usually the bride wears Hanbok (traditional dress – see picture for an example, you may recognize them) but my friend is pretty independent and wore a nice dress instead. Prior to the wedding, she told me that her future husband was working for Samsung Engineering (my current company) on a JV with Bechtel (my old company) and if they were successful, she would be moving to Houston. She asked if I thought if she would like it – and I said that she’d love it. Sometimes just have to go with the flow…