One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Won at Busan Immigration

All Air Busan BX 123 passengers were already standing in cabin aisle to prepare to get off the plane. After one of flight attendants coordinated with ground staffs, finally an aerobridge perfectly sticked in the fuselage and the door was safe to open. Not long , then I followed the lead of passenger line to get out of the cabin.

Throughout the aerobridge, my worries weren’t as bad as when I entered Narita International Airport a few days ago. “I’ve been to entering Japan several days ago, It isn’t possible if I can’t enter Korea,” I thought to calm myself. I continued to steadily walk through corridor after corridor at arrival hall of Gimhae International Airport Terminal 1. Continued following signboards to immigration counter. After finding it, I immediately stucked to back end of one of the queue lines. I still look relaxed and full of smiles. And didn’t think that the drama had just started

I took the leftmost queue, tourists from China seemed to dominate in front. They looked very smooth going through immigration staff. “Looks like this will be easy”, I finally came to a conclusion. I was now at the head of queue, waiting for a female Chinese tourist to finish her process at counter. The bespectacled male officer quickly approved one by one Chinese tourists from earlier.

“Neexxxttt”….He called out with his eyes still staring at computer screen

Immigration Officer : “Have you been to South Korea before?”

Me : “Not yet Sir, this is the first time”

Immigration : “Where did you visit before South Korea?”

Me : “Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan, Sir”

He started suspiciously watching me.

Immigration : “Which other countries have you visited?”, he handed me a paper and pen for me to write

I started writing one by one until I copied eleven names of countries I had been to.

But his reaction was so unexpected, he just shook his head. I didn’t lose the initiative when he behaved like that. From inside my backpack, I took out my old passport which had one of its covers cut off, “You can check it out here, Sir”.

Immigration: “I don’t need this”, he pushed my old passport with his index finger at me as a sign he didn’t want to see it

Damn…..“Dag dig dug”, my heart started beating above its usual rhythm.

Immigration : ”Please take out your wallet!”

That short snapping made me automatically crouch with my hands rummaging through all contents of my backpack with an added panic. I got my wallet in a few moments, indeed I put my wallet in the innermost part to be safe.

I started to stand up and handed over my worn out wallet….Hmmhhh, a wallet with peeling leather upholstery on some ends. Made me helpless. The immigration officer began to open my wallet and counted each sheet in it. He shook his head when he only found 120,000 Won notes.

He started to stand up and walked out of immigration counter box and started to close the queue with a standing barrier and hung the words “CLOSE” in the middle. All tourists who queued behind me were asked by him to move to a counter next to him. Every tourist regularly moved while sadly looking at my misfortune, some looked astonished and curious.

“Wow,” my voice began to wry.

The immigration officer immediately stepped back into the counter and put my wallet in front of him. He started to stare at me intently.

Immigration : “Do you bring an ATM?”

Me: “No, Sir”…. My mind refuted, “Isn’t it that I already have a Visa, why bother?”

Immigration : “Credit Card?”

Me: “No, Sir”….My mind was muttering again, “Isn’t it important that I have enough money to travel in Korea?”

Immigration : “ID Card?”

Me: “No, Sir”….I thought back to fight, “Isn’t the ID Card for tourists a passport?”

Immigration : Browsing firmly with red face, “Aiissshhhh….No ATM….No Credit Card….No ID Card….You only have a small amount of money…. You can’t stay in Korea”

“Ouch, Deportation”, I thought to myself instantly.

Immigration : “What do you do in your country?”

Me: “Marketing”

Immigration : “Show your business card!”

Me: “I don’t bring it, Sir”

Immigration : ” Aiissshhhh …”

He started rubbing his forehead and eyes, not believing he had met a tourist like me. Now he had closed my passport. He stood back up and called his friend. Quickly his friend came over and started talking seriously leaving me on the verge of being deported.

I didn’t know what they’re talking about, it was definitely about me. I noticed he kept shaking his head and his friends occasionally looked at me like a suspect….Aahhh, this situation was really uncomfortable and made me nervous. But I tried my best to put on a calm face. I even prepared to clarify before he decided anything.

OK, he had finished his dialogue with his friend and sat back at the immigration counter. Before he uttered a word, I began to make a final plea. No matter what the result….

Me : “ I have a return ticket, Air Asia 5th January, from Incheon to Jakarta. I will stay at Kimchee Guesthouse Busan and Kimchee Guesthouse Seoul….these are my itinerary and my budgeting during in Korea.”

The immigration officer was angry and put a finger to his mouth… “Shhhhhhh”, a sign he was asking me not to babble too much in front of him. But the good thing was that he was willing to read my itinerary and budgeting sheet.

Me : ”Please Sir, I am just a backpacker…..just for sightseeing Korea this time….No more….Please…..I will go home….Believe me!”, I begged begging.

The immigration officer looked back at me, this time he really looked me in the eye, maybe he was testing my honesty. He seemed to be starting to feel pity. He started flipping through each page of my new passport and my old passport which a second ago he pulled from in front of me.

Immigration : ”OK, You can….You can….But promise me to return to your country!…. Or you’re in big trouble”

Knock….The arrival stamp was clearly affixed on my passport….Oh, what a beautiful moment that was.

I was very relieved

This was a valuable lesson that in the future I would become a backpacker who was more detailed and prepared things very well. After that incident, I always carried a business card, ID card, credit card (even though its limit was small) and an ATM (even though the values were minimal) every time I traveled to another country.

Thanks to good preparation, I was greatly helped by the existence of that cards when facing similar random checking at Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore seven months after this incident.

The incident was over, I stepped out of immigration counter triumphantly.

Welcome Busan, Welcome South Korea!

Sejuta Tiga Ratus Ribu di Imigrasi Busan (2nd Edition)

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Segenap penumpang Air Busan BX 123 sudah berdiri di cabin aisle demi bersiap menuruni pesawat. Setelah salah satu pramugara berkoordinasi dengan ground staff, akhirnya juluran aerobridge menempel sempurna di badan pesawat dan pintu telah aman untuk dibuka. Tak lama kemudian, aku mengikuti langkah barisan penumpang di depan untuk keluar dari kabin.

Sepanjang menapaki aerobridge, kekhawatiranku tak seburuk seperti  saat aku memasuki Narita International Airport beberapa hari lalu. “Masak iya, sudah ke Jepang, ndak bisa masuk Korea”,  pikirku menenangkan diri. Aku terus melangkah dengan mantap melewati koridor demi koridor di arrival hall Gimhae International Airport Terminal 1. Terus mengikuti tengara menuju konter imigrasi. Setelah menemukannya maka aku segera menempel di ujung belakang salah satu baris antrian. Aku masih terlihat santai dan penuh senyum. Dan tak menyangka bahwa drama itu baru saja dimulai

Aku mengambil antrian paling kiri, para turis asal Tiongkok tampak mendominasi di depan. Mereka terlihat sangat lancar melewati staf imigrasi. “Sepertinya ini akan mudah”, akhirnya aku membuat kesimpulan. Aku kini berada di kepala antrian, menunggu seorang turis wanita Tiongkok menyelesaikan prosesnya di konter. Petugas laki-laki berkacamata itu dengan cepat memasukkan satu demi satu turis asal Tiongkok sedari tadi.

Neexxxtttt”….Dia memanggil dengan mata masih menatap layar komputer

Petugas Imigrasi     :     “Have you been to South Korea before?

Aku                              :     “Not yet sir, this is the first time

Imigrasi                      :     “Where did you visit before South Korea?

Aku                              :     “Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan, Sir

Dia mulai mengawasiku dengan tatapan curiga.

Imigrasi                      :     “Which other countries have you visited?”, dia menyodorkan sebuah kertas dan pena untukku menulis

Aku mulai menulis satu-persatu hingga tersalin sebelas baris tambahan nama negara yang pernah kusinggahi.

Tapi reaksinya sungguh di luar dugaan, dia hanya geleng-geleng kepala. Aku tak kalah berinisiatif ketika dia bersikap demikian. Dari dalam backpack, kukeluarkan passport lama yang telah terpotong salah satu covernya, “You can check it out here, sir”.

Imigrasi                      :     ”I don’t need this”, dia mendorong passport lama itu dengan telunjuk jarinya ke arahku sebagai pertanda dia tidak mau melihatnya

Alamaaattttttttt….”Dag dig dug”, jantungku mulai berdetak di atas ritme biasa.

Imigrasi                      :     ”Please take out your wallet!

Gertakan ringan itu membuatku terjongkok otomatis dengan tangan mengaduk-aduk isi backpack dengan imbuhan kepanikan. Aku mendapatkan dompet yang dimaksud dalam beberapa saat, memang dompetku kuletakkan di bagian paling dalam supaya aman.

Aku mulai berdiri dan menyodorkan dompet usang itu….Hmmhhh, dompet dengan kelupasan kulit pelapis di beberapa ujungnya. Membuatku pasrah tak berdaya. Petugas imigrasi itu mulai membuka dompetku dan menghitung setiap lembar isinya. Dia bergeleng kepala  ketika hanya menemukan uang kertas sebanyak  110.000 Won (Rp. 1.378.000).

Dia mulai berdiri dan beranjak keluar dari immigration counter box dan mulai menutup antrian dengan standing barrier dan menggantungkan tuilsan “CLOSE” di tengahnya. Segenap turis yang mengantri dibelakangku dimintanya berpindah ke antrian konter di sebelahnya. Setiap turis berpindah teratur sembari melihat dengan sedih atas kemalanganku, beberapa tampak heran penuh rasa ingin tahu.

Waduuhhh”, suara hatiku mulai kecut.

Petugas imigrasi itu segera melangkan memasuki konternya kembali dan menaruh dompetku di hadapannya. Dia mulai menatapku tajam.

Imigrasi                      :     ”Do you bring an ATM?

Aku                              :     “No, Sir”….Batinku menyanggah,”bukannya aku sudah punya Visa, kok dipermasalahin sih?”

Imigrasi                      :     “Credit Card?”

Aku                              :     “No, Sir”….Batinku kembali berguman, “Bukannya yang penting uangku cukup buat mengelana di Korea?”

Imigrasi                      :     “ID Card?”

Aku                              :     “No, Sir”….Kembali batinku melakukan perlawanan,”Bukannya ID Card bagi turis adalah passport?”

Imigrasi                      :     Menggelang tegas dengan muka merah, “Aiissshhhh….No ATM….No Credit Card….No ID Card….You only have a small amount of money…. You can’t stay in Korea

Aduh, Deportasi”, batinku memvonis diri seketika.

Imigrasi                      :     ”What do you do in your country?

Aku                              :     ”Marketing

Imigrasi                      :     “Show your business card!

Aku                              :     ”I don’t bring it, Sir

Imigrasi                      :     ” Aiissshhhh ….”

Dia mulai mengusap-usap kening dan matanya, tak percaya telah bertemu turis semacamku. Kini dia telah menutup passport. Dia berdiri kembali dan memanggil temannya. Dengan cepat temannya datang menghampiri dan mulai bercakap serius meninggalkanku yang sudah diambang deportasi.

Aku tak menahu apa yang mereka bicarakan, yang jelas itu pasti tentangku. Kuperhatikan dia terus menggelengkan kepala dan temannya sesekali melihatku bak tersangka….Aahhh, suasana ini benar-benar tak mengenakkan dan membuatku gelisah. Tap aku mencoba sekuat mungkin menampilkan muka penuh ketenangan. Bahkan aku bersiap melakukan klarifikasi sebelum dia memutuskan apapun.

OK, dia telah usai berdialog dengan temannya dan duduk kembali di bangku konter imigrasi. Sebelum dia mengeluarkan sepatah katapun, aku mulai melakukan pledoi terakhir. Tak peduli apapun hasilnya….

Aku                              :     ” I have a return ticket, Air Asia 5th January, from Incheon to Jakarta. I will stay at Kimchee Guesthouse Busan and Kimchee Guesthouse Seoul….these are my itinerary and my budgeting during in Korea”, Aku memberikan lembaran itinerary dan budgeting padanya, Aku memang selalu menyusun keduanya setiap melakukan backpacking ke luar negeri.

Petugas imigrasi itu marah dan menempelkan telunjuk ke mulutnya….”Sssttttt”, pertanda dia memintaku untuk tidak banyak mengoceh di depannya. Tapi hal baiknya adalah dia mau membaca lembaran itinerary dan budgeting itu.

Aku                              :     ”Please Sir, I am just a backpacker…..just for sightseeing Korea this time….No more….Please…..I will go home….Believe me!”, aku mengemis memelas.

Petugas imigrasi itu kembali menatapku, kali ini benar-benar menatap mataku lekat-lekat, mungkin dia sedang menguji kejujuran. Sepertinya dia mulai menaruh rasa kasihan. Dia mulai membolak-balik setiap halaman passport baru dan passport lamaku yang sedetik lalu dia tarik dari hadapanku.

Imigrasi                      :     ”OK, You can….You can….But promise me to return to your country!…. Or you’re in big trouble

Cettoookkkk….Stempel arrival itu terbubuh jelas di passport….Oh, indah sekali momen itu.

Hadeeuuhhhh…Leegggaaaa banggeeetttt.

Inilah pelajaran berharga bahwa dikemudian hari nanti aku akan menjadi seorang backpacker yang lebih detail dan mempersiapkan sesuatu dengan sangat baik. Setelah insiden itu, aku selalu membawa kartu nama, KTP, Credit Card (walaupun limitnya kecil) dan ATM (meskipun isinya minim) setiap melakukan perjalanan ke negara orang.

Berkat persiapan yang baik, aku sangat terbantu dengan keberadaan kartu-kartu sakti itu ketika menghadapi random checking serupa di Woodlands Checkpoint di Singapura tujuh bulan setelah insiden ini.

Insiden telah usai, aku melangkah meninggalkan konter imigrasi dengan kemenangan.

Welcome Busan, Welcome South Korea!