Saturday, February 13, 2010

Moving Pojang-style

Due to the high mobility of Korean households and enterprising individuals cashing in on that mobility, especially in the busy dual-parent working households, a somewhat new style of moving has evolved. Pojang! Pojang is the concept of packing for carrying out purposes and the concept was originally for packing up an item for taking it out of a store. Now pojang has been broadened in meaning and refers to packing up a home by hired movers and unpacking the goods in the new home in accordance with the owners specifications.

When hiring movers, an agent will come and briefly look through the house to evaluate the quantity in number and in volume of items to be moved. Then clarification on 이반 (regular) or 포장 (packing for carry-out) will be determined. If the customer chooses 일반-style, then he or she is expected to have everything ready in boxes or containers for easy removal from the apartment [a very time-consuming process because not only do boxes and containers have to be found - not easy on the street or from stores because some elderly people earn a little extra money by collecting boxes and reselling them to recycling centers - but all breakables must be carefully packed]. If 포장-style is chosen, then the customer just opens the door, maybe directs some traffic or packaging specifications, or as in my case, just takes a few pictures now and then to document the incredible speed of the movers, be responsible for the well-being of my terrified cat or to tell the movers the neighbor's bike needs to remain the neighbor's bike.

In Western culture it would be considered arrogant of me now to help pack and unpack my own possessions, but here, I was not expected to do anything. When the lady who was assisting the packing came in, I greeted her and explained to her because of my dislocated rib I couldn't help. She just said "Of course" and took charge. I was shocked that she not only efficiently put things in crates but she also scrubbed out my fridge and the frozen food spills in my freezer, and when we got over to my new apartment, she scoured my cupboards. If I would have known that was included in 포장-style moving, a lot of scrubbing pain could have been spared.

The two men were equally brisk. One whizzed into my bedroom and packed all my clothes in clean plastic containers. He found my vacuum in a closet and vacuumed the cat fuzz off the backs of the wardrobes and all pieces of furniture. The other poor guy squinted through the whole moving time due to long-haired fluff floating from behind the books and bookcases as he moved them.

As the objects were cleaned and packaged for careful transporting, they were put in the living room and quickly whisked out the door to the hired elevator truck [an additional and separate expense not included on the original 포장 moving agreement but agreed on before the actual packing began]. A fourth person operated the elevator-truck and unloaded each load into the moving truck. Once all was loaded, I whizzed through the apartment checking for forgotten items, jotted down the numbers from the city gas meter and closed up the apartment.

Then the reverse took place. The movers got everything in my apartment and I briefly directed where the items should be and made sure the extension cords were laid behind the big items so I could easily reconnect my electronics... And then a friend called so I went to lunch. When I returned a half hour later, the three movers were walking out of my new apartment. Everything had been unpacked, the curtains rehung and the floor had been mopped. How awfully easy even though 3 of the 4 curtains were hung in the wrong rooms and 2 of them were hung backwards. I paid the movers the balance and we were all happy! 5 hours and 20 minutes from arrival to departure. Incredible!

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