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The last two weeks have been smooth. School is still out in my area, so there aren’t kids and school bells creating noise pollution early in the morning. Instead, we have experienced the one possible disadvantage of living against beautiful mountains. Early in the morning, people like to climb these mountains and yell, “YAA-HO!”

Cute at first, but come on! It’s five o’clock in the morning! Does it occur to you that people are trying to sleep?

I had been bugging Eun Jeong to head up Temple Mountain with me. We haven’t been there together in a while. On Saturday, she said, “Why not.”

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It was a good climb. We broke away from the paved trail and climbed rocks up a shortcut. We hadn’t climbed it this late in the day before, and it was a clear day. Supposedly one can see the ocean from the top of the mountain, but we didn’t see anything. The sun started setting, and we ate our apple and drank some chilled barley tea. When the sky started getting really red, I said, “Let’s go down to MangHaeAm (Temple).”

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I’ve read that the sunsets there are romantic. We ran down there, a quarter of a mile down the mountain. A monk was there, and Eun Jeong asked him where to see the sunset. He pointed out a few places, notably the balcony of the temple’s living quarters. We headed to the balcony, and I saw the light hit Eun Jeong.

That was and amazing sunset!

After our retinae got properly burned, we turned to head back. As we turned, we noticed a rainbow sticking out the other side of the mountain.

One morning this week, I woke up from a bad dream and couldn’t go back to sleep. The crickets hadn’t given way to the cicadas yet. I figured if I couldn’t sleep anymore, I’d better check out to see if the sunrise on Temple Mountain was just as stunning.

It was.

A little side note. I know my mother would jump on a plane to South Korea to kick my butt for this. I rode on the back of Chris’s motorcycle to go pick up some lunch on Monday. My mother had ingrained in me since childhood the evils of riding motorcycles. The only other time I had done anything like that was piggybacking on a scooter when I was ten years-old. So I was very nervous on the motorcycle. I can handle roller coasters. But roller coasters have better safety records. I screamed like a girl the whole way. (You may know the scream from the Seoraksan, Part 2 video.)

I got lunch and returned. The claw marks on Chris’s shoulders are beginning to heal.

Our supposed last Labor Board hearing was Wednesday afternoon at two. We showed up there early with Friend-Lee. The inspector came out and started talking to us outside while on a smoke break. He told us the latest stuff Unnamed Hagwon Owner was doing in this case. Instead of defending her actions, she was attacking me with new accusations. That’s her style, though. She never defends herself. She just distracts by accusing the accuser of something strange. This time, she was claiming that she was holding back money for past due bills – as if the 4,000,000 won ($4,000) she took from me wasn’t already enough.

Two o’clock came and went and, as always, Unnamed Hagwon Owner was late. I pointed out to the inspector that she was always late. He went inside with Friend-Lee and called her. Friend-Lee came out and said that she hadn’t left the school yet. It was 2:20. I asked, “What should we do?”

“He told us to wait for her.”

I got pissed. I was tired of not being in control of this case and having the Koreans do all the talking for me (even though I appreciate it). “Come on.”

I marched in with Eun Jeong and Friend-Lee behind me and sat down at the inspector’s desk. I told Friend-Lee to be ready to interpret quickly. The inspector sat down and asked what was going on.

I looked him in the eye. “We’re starting this now.”

He froze. The foreigner spoke.

I pounded the desk with my finger. “I have been coming here on time each time you have asked us to. Unnamed Hagwon Owner has always, ALWAYS, been late. This is stupid. This is ridiculous. This is wasting my time. I’m taking off work for this, and it hurts my job. I’m losing money. Now, is this the Labor Office or the Wangjangnim (Boss) Office?”

After that display, the inspector was very apologetic. He said he was busy and wanted to finish this quickly. I said I also was busy and wanted it to end quickly. The only reason it had been taking so long was that he was always insisting we wait for Unnamed Hagwon Owner.

He asked if I could stay past five.

“No.”

He asked if I could come again.

“No. You’ve had plenty of time. I’ve taken off too much work.”

The case has to be closed by Friday. The crux of the matter was that the hearing that day was supposed to be a confrontation between myself and Unnamed Hagwon Owner. It couldn’t happen if she wasn’t there. So we came up with a compromise. We’re coming back at 8:30 Friday night when I get off work. And, yes, Unnamed Hagwon Owner’s behavior has definitely hurt her case.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

The inspector showed us that Unnamed Hagwon Owner had turned in tax records from the Tax Office declaring she had paid taxes for me in 2006. He asked if I wanted to drop my unpaid taxes claim. I said, “Only for 2006. I don’t see anything for 2005, so I’m not dropping that.”

Eun Jeong was suspicious, as was Friend-Lee, who noticed there were no official stamps on any of the documents. Eun Jeong asked if the papers were real. The inspector got annoyed with her. “You’re doing this again?”

Eun Jeong and Friend-Lee both discreetly copied the business license number from the tax papers. That was another obstacle we had been dealing with. I’m pretty sure businesses are supposed to display their licenses where people can see them. Unnamed Hagwon has none to be found. I asked former co-workers to look for it, and they couldn’t find it. So now we had Unnamed Hagwon’s business license number.

We finished things up and decided to meet on Friday. Unnamed Hagwon Owner entered as we were leaving.

We got into the car and headed straight to the tax office. Eun Jeong went up to the records department and asked one of the officers to find if taxes were paid for me under this business license. The officer punched in the numbers.

Then punched in numbers.

Punched in more numbers.

A crowd of officials was forming around the desk. Not only was there no record of Unnamed Hagwon Owner paying taxes for me, there was no record of that business license number in the system.

It dawned on us at the same time.

HAD SOMEONE FORGED THE TAX RECORDS!!!

The snag we had was that the tax office couldn’t write anything for us to show the inspector. A friend of Friend-Lee’s mother worked there, and he said that if we had a copy of the forged papers from the Labor Office, they could verify that they were fakes.

As of now, it doesn’t matter. That’s going to wait for the civil suit phase of the Battle Against Unnamed Hagwon. Eun Jeong talked to a legal counselor in Seoul today about many topics, and he said to wait too. It baffled him that Unnamed Hagwon Owner was stupid enough to drag it on this far. It’s as if she has an economic and legal death wish. Nonetheless, it’s going to be difficult to go further on the tax fraud without a subpoena of Unnamed Hagwon’s tax records.

So that’s what we’ll do.

—MEME STUFF—

KONGLISH OF THE DAY
This is for a tube of toothpaste we’re using now. It’s designed for people who hate math.

BOOK I’M READING: Finished re-reading my old China’s Imperial Past textbook from Chinese history class years ago. I have NOTHING now. HELP!

ON MY MP3 PLAYER: Just finished Chinese History. Starting James Burke’s Connections (loved the TV series).

LATEST FOOD SUCCESS: Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

LATEST FOOD FROM HOME I COOKED: Waffle House Chicken Melt with Hashbrowns Scattered, Smothered, and Covered

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