Yesterday I signed up for a public library access card. I can tell you upfront – do not even attempt to do it without a Korean interpreter. This is a 3-step process where the first step takes 45 minutes with the last one only 5.
A new Bora-dong library opened in our area. It has a children’s room, an adult section, a media section, a quiet study room, and a cafeteria. The library is only one week old and they are working on enlarging their selections of children’s book in English. Besides, this is a well-conditioned modern technological over-equipped building where children can enjoy themselves on a hot summer day. In short, I was pleased to try to enroll.
Step #1: Get an ID by applying online. The good news – the page was in English. This step asks a foreigner to input all immigration numbers, work place info, cell phone number, work phone number to verify against the immigration database. If everything checks out – the library system will allow you to continue.
Step #2: During this step one has to create an access ID, password, login name, security questions and security question hint. I bet the security requirements to create these things equal to the security requirements on a nuclear station. For example, Login name has to have minimum 4 letters and 4 digits and at least 1 capital letter. By the time you go through inventing all four items, they lose any meaning for you, and so, there is no hope to ever remember how to log back in. By the way, this page is in Korean only.
Step #3: The librarian will print and issue your library card.
I tried to register at a local much smaller library that is hosted in one of the apartment complexes near our place. We were denied. I did not ask, but I bet it is because that small library had no way of running our background check. Again, I want to underline a parallel of how much easier it is to be a foreigner in the US. All you need in order to open a library card is your Driver’s license and a bill sent to your mailing address.