5/22/2015

Being An Expat Dad in Korea: Yes - Not a Law Article Today

The following post is not on law, but it is from one of our commercial advisers and it is one of the best articles I have read from the Korea Times for a long long time (hey since I wrote for the Korea Times)

Being an expat dad in Korea is one of the toughest jobs. And parenting is not something that we talk about enough or get the chance to.

We all have had this situation at some point. Sitting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon this warm spring, drinking an ice-cold imported beer you bought at the local mart and your wife blurts out, "see, you need to be more like the dads on television." The thing is, you can never be truly prepared for being a dad, just one day you are in the game.

I never asked my dad how he did it, he just did. Being a dad in Korea is like escaping from a terrorist prison camp: Completely sleep deprived, panicked and living in the hope you stumble across help in the middle of the desert. It is a mixture of emotions.

You are left to wonder whether you will ever see the inside of that bar in Itaewon again to looking online on Gmarket for the best deals on diapers, endless hours negotiating hagwon books and working out round-the-clock study plans for elementary school. In the blink of an eye those freedoms you took for granted disappear.

Dads are not like moms. Expat dads are not surrounded by a library of books and mommy-training manuals. We don't spend months at classes with friends and family. We are that lone wolf, you don't have the family back-up from home.

The closest form of acknowledgement we get as an expat dad is that nod from the other sleep-deprived dad that you may pass on the subway. It is not all doom and gloom. Being an expat dad is like being Willy Wonka in the Chocolate Factory, you get your childhood again, with a bonus. You get away with things that local dads normally would not do.

You get to be a big kid and get away with it. It's the perfect crime. You discover you have someone else who shares your taste in dipping french fries in chocolate shakes. You have someone who shares your love of '80s movies. The greatest day in fatherhood is when your child dresses as a "Star Wars" character and you have your first light-saber duel on your couch.

As a dad, you must also be prepared to memorize the entire musical score of "Frozen" and act out the part of Sven with Academy Award-winning conviction. You have someone who shares your love of fart and poo jokes. As a five-year-old, there is nothing funnier than farts and what shapes we can make in the toilet bowl.

Going through the toy section at Home-Plus becomes fun again and you share the same interest in friends. Her friends, such as Elsa, Poro and Sheriff Woody, will become your friends.

They are on the guest list for any family dinner or the occasional tea party. These are just some of the many perks that take the stress out of living in a foreign country. With Parents' Day coming up, spare a thought for the dads, especially the expat ones.