Midnight Runner: It's a term that we've become so very familiar with here in Korea. The term is coined from the idea of those who come to Korea, but then disappear into the night. They leave no trace, no evidence, but somehow find their way back to America without informing a soul.
Recently a whole swarm of new teachers arrived at our school. We had a large group of people who all finished their contracts around the same time, but we also had two newbies who quit after a month or two. Needless to say we were short teachers- so now we had seven new smiling faces in the staff room who all seemed excited for their journey.
Some of the teachers hailed from the great state of Minnesota. One in particular I took an immediate liking to. She was fresh out of college, and we seemed to actually have a lot in common. Her first weekend in Seoul, I took her all around to make her feel welcomed. We started out with breakfast at Suji's (one of my favorite breakfast places in Itaewon) we went to the folk museum, walked around a palace, and had coffee in Samchungdong. We ended the night with Indian for dinner. I thought she was adjusting well and would be here for the long haul.
Last week we were all on vacation, and one night I signed online while in Cambodia to check my email. I got a message from a co-worker who informed me that our fellow Minnesotan hopped on a plane back to America during the vacation. Her apartment was cleared out except for a suitcase full of useless items. She was gone. Part of me was curious why she didn't even email me when she got back to the states. A simple, "Thank you for making me feel welcomed my month my Korea" would have sufficed. Instead this person blocked me from facebook. What a great thank you if you ask me.
Coming to teach in Korea is quite the process and it usually takes two to three solid months from the time you get hired until the time you actually touch down in Seoul. This is the reason why I am completely shocked when people up and leave without any notification. You have to apply for jobs, interview for jobs, and start gathering your paperwork. In order to get a visa number from Korea you need to submit your original college diploma, unsealed transcripts, a state notorized criminal background check, and other documents. Once these are in the hands of the Korean government they issue you a visa number. Once you have your visa number you have to apply for your visa at your nearest consulate and schedule an interview, too. Once you apply, you leave your passport over night, and can return to pick it up the next day.
After you have your visa, you spend the next two weeks packing up your life into two (50) pound suitcases. Finally, you board an airplane that may take anywhere between 10-16 hours depending where in the US you live. Most of us stay a year or more, while others run like the wind in the opposite direction.