One of the most frustrating things that most people are bound to experience is losing a wallet. It is even more frustrating when it happens in a foreign country.
Well, it happened to me in Korea. Twice. I’m alive. You will be, too!
I want to write an informative article about what to do if you lose a wallet in Korea. This is based on my personal experiences in a large metropolitan city. Your situation may be different.
In case you were wondering, yes, I got my wallet back both times. I applaud Korea and its rather honest and thoughtful citizens. I’ve heard similar stories of people getting their wallets back, so I suppose it is more common to happen in Korea than in, let’s say, America. This is what I recommend to do:
2. Retrace your steps (well, duh). At a store or a restaurant, say “지갑을 잃었습니다. (jikab-eul ireosseumnida)” (I lost my wallet – okay, this is the real tip I wanted to give). If it’s not there, give the person your phone number in case it is found
3. Cancel your cards. You know how it is using a card to pay for things at your local Mini Mart. You can draw a big smiley face and that still counts as a signature. Heck, even some cashiers sign for you. So it is easy for just anyone to use your precious card. Cancel them right away. Google your bank hotline number and give them a ring. Both of my banks (NH and KEB) had English speakers and I assume most of them do. They will cancel your cards. The next time the bank is open, go into a branch and get a replacement card. Bring your passbook and a form of ID. It is a rather easy process.
4. Head to the nearest police station. Get a Korean friend to come with you’re not confident with the language. You can find police locations by typing in 파출소 or 경찰서 into Google or Naver. Any one will do as they are all connected. Bring your passport or some form of ID. You will fill out a report describing your wallet and its contents
5. Check out this website: Lost 112. There are photos of recent items turned in, but this is country-wide. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check.
6. Get a new ARC (Alien Registration Card) at the Office of Immigration. Bring your passport, a passport photo, 30,000 cash, and a book/some patience because there might be long lines. After applying, It will take three weeks to get the new card.
I read advice that you should get your ARC replaced immediately, but I would wait two weeks. My coteacher told me that if a wallet is found, anybody can put it in the mailbox and the post office will deliver it to the person if there’s an ID inside. She lost hers and it came back two weeks later. Well, I waited for nearly two weeks full of hope, answering every phone call, but no luck. So I trekked over to the Immigration Office and did a bunch of boring paperwork for a new one.
I went home to find a notice on my mailbox from the post office. It turns out that my wallet was found! I had to arrange to get it delivered to my school for 3,300 won. I couldn’t cancel my new ARC, so that’s another 30,000 lost.
But, my wallet came back to me in one piece. Nothing was missing except cash. Even though I went through the trouble of getting everything replaced, I’m glad to have the wallet back as it was a gift from my boyfriend.
The first time I lost my wallet, the entire thing was returned to me at my front door, including all of the cash and coins, the very next morning after reporting it to the police at midnight (I lost it on the bus).
That is one nice thing about living in Korea. I always feel relatively safe. If my wallet is missing, it is more likely because of my own carelessness than someone stealing it.
Hope this brief guide is useful for somebody. If you are reading this and didn’t lose a wallet, take note and be extra cautious so you don’t make the same careless mistake as me. Put your contact information in English and Korean inside the wallet.