Well, something everyone dreads has happened to me in Korea. I've lost my bank card. I had made it almost 12 months in this country without losing something significant (ID card, bank card, etc), but now my record has been tarnished. Yesterday, I decided to try out the new Smoothie King that BauHaus has put in around the corner from my apartment. I ordered an Angel Food, and as I pulled out my phone (which doubles as my wallet in Korea), I had the sinking realization that my card was not in its usual location. Here's the deal...
So I realize that my card is gone. Punch to the gut. This Korean girl is staring at me, expecting me to hand her over some payment. So, I fumble for my cash-wallet and hand over a 5,000W bill. She hands me my buzzer to alert me when my drink is ready, and I stagger over to the nearest table to empty the contents of my purse. I search every nook and cranny, to no avail. My first instinct, after searching the purse, was tears. They started welling but I attempted to restrain the waterworks. I called Romeo, for lack of any other ideas as of what to do.
As the phone rang, I got my drink and started walking towards the bank in my neighborhood. Although, when Romeo picked up, he reminded me that the bank branches aren't open on the weekends. My mind was completely frazzled. When I realized that the bank wasn't open and I couldn't use the ATM to pull out my money, the tears started up again. Romeo patiently dealt with me and told me to get back to room and check my pockets from the day before and that he would be over to help me.
I got into my apartment and tore apart all 3 purses, pockets from clothes the night before, and every other foreseeable place it could be. I kept having these waves of panic. "Where could it be?!" "What if someone is going on a shopping spree with my card?!?!" "I JUST got paid, all my money is in that account!!!!!" "What if they completely empty my account?!?!?!?"
I got my passbook (account book that can be autoupdated via ATM), and found a phone number to call. Of course, to no one's surprise, it was a recording. Even less of a surprise: it was all in Korean. I tried to wait patiently to hear if there was a choice to get the English options, but it seemed to just loop through the Korean options. I lost my cool, started pressing numbers, to no avail. I frustratedly hung up.
By the time Romeo got to my apartment, I had given in to panic and let some tears fall. His calmness snapped me out of that a bit, and I remembered my former coworker, Erin, telling me about when she lost her ARC and her American card. She had mentioned that she called Jackie. So, I called her.
After the fourth time calling her without an answer, I dialed my director's number. He also didn't answer, and I let some more tears fall. Romeo began googling any information online possible about what to do when you lose your card. Of course, not a lot of information. He then looked to see if I could withdraw cash from my account using just my passbook at the ATM. He got some conflicting answers, but I later tried and found out: You CAN withdraw cash using the passbook and no card, BUT you have to have previously set up a separate password to do so. And that can only be done with a staff member during the week. UGH.
For the time being, I curled into the fetal position and let the worst possible scenario play through my mind. Thankfully, my phone rang and snapped me out of that dark pit of despair. Jackie was calling back. I tried to calmly explain to her that I had lost my bank card. Instead of "What? Lost your card? How did that happen?" like I expected, she didn't even skip a beat. "Debit, cash, or credit card? Which bank? Okay, I'm calling them now."
I was so thankful for her at that moment. She called back a few minutes later to get my ARC number. Finally, she called back again to let me know she had reported it as missing. She said that if I find it, I can take it and my ARC into the branch on Monday or Tuesday to reactivate it, or if not, I could go in and get a new one made. And, my last question, "Had my card been used since 10pm last night?" (that was the last time I had used it). I almost melted into the floor with relief when she answered, "No, not since last night."
Here's what Romeo and I decided we think happened to the card:
Last known whereabouts: We went to dinner Friday night, and I used my card to pay.
After that: We went on a late night bike ride along the Han. When we took a break and got a beer, I used cash to pay. On the way back, we went down a rather steep hill which was also gravelly. My bike has a phone holder to mount my phone while I ride. When I was going down this annoying hill, my phone popped out of the holder and hit the ground. I squealed and stopped to get it. I was worried it had cracked, but I picked it up and it was okay. I breathed a sigh of relief and realized that the phone mount was a little messed up, so I stuffed the phone in my shirt for the last few miles.
Our theory: When the phone bounced out of the holder and onto the ground, the card must have slipped out of its pocket. While I don't recall seeing anything on the ground, I was shaken up from the surprise of the phone falling (and the headphones threatening to tangle up in the gears, and having just finished a very steep and difficult ride up a hill), I could have not noticed it. That is the only thing that we can think of where the card could have gone missing. Otherwise, it was just sleeping and getting ready the next day... no situations where it could have gotten lost/stolen.
So, for future reference (or the reference of others out there): if you lose your Korean bank card over the weekend, call your director or Korean co-teacher who can report it missing for you!
While I am thrilled nothing had been taken from my account, I was still stuck without a card for the remainder of the weekend. Thankfully, Romeo loaned me some cash to get by on. What a guy ;)