Are you an iHerb customer? I am. Love iHerb. Brown basmati rice, organic icing mix, butterscotch chips, herbal medicine, quinoa, macaroni and cheese, glutton free flour…it’s all there. And the shipping is fast and mostly reliable. I use iHerb all the time and so do most expats I know.
I was putting in my latest order yesterday when I learned that there was a new shipping option called ‘Direct Korean Postal.’ It takes only 4-7 business days to get your order, it doesn’t have a 6 item maximum purchase like the CJ GLS shipping option, and until Dec 31st it’s 30% off. Sounds awesome right?
So I put in my order for all manner of things I’ll need postpartum and choose the Direct Korean Postal option…only to learn when it came time to put in my address that I had to include my Korean id number…and surprise surprise…I see the message ‘Resident Registration Number is not Valid !’
You see, Korean id numbers are 13 numbers long. The first 6 numbers are your birth date. The 7th number denotes a) your gender b) the time period in which you were born c) your Korean/foreign status. For instance, 1 is the number for Korean men born in the 20th century and 2 is the number for Korean women born in the 20th century, but 5 and 6 are the numbers for foreigners born in the same time period.
And what does that mean? Most Korean websites will not recognize 5 or 6 as ‘legitimate’ id numbers. We’re foreigners you see. And foreigners are just passing through. We aren’t expected to stay or participate or marry or have kids or be part of society. We’re just backpackers passing through for a year and could never ever need to negotiate a Korean website right?
Except now I can’t even use an American website correctly because it is configured with the Korean postal service which refuses to acknowledge either me or my id number as valid.
I messaged iHerb directly, and they sent me onto the people who deal with shipping to Korea (email@example.com). They responded with a curt email stating, “Korea Postal is available to Korean only at this moment.(customers who has RRN). We are using the system that provided from Korea Postal Service but it only works on Korean RRN.”
Now, I could use the other shipping option…although it’s not really an option if it’s the only thing I can use. But why should I be limited because there is a 6 instead of a 2 in my id? And yes, I could put it in my husband’s name and send it to his work (as we don’t have a security guard in our building, and I’m rarely home, they won’t allow a package to be dropped off unattended outside of our door). But why should I have to send my Mother’s Milk tea which increases’ milk supply and perineum healing spray to my husband’s company? Seriously.
I’ve talked before about how I sometimes feel like a dependent woman not because of some kind of crazy patriarchal husband demands but because Korean society isn’t set up for a person like me who is just trying to live a normal life and get stuff done like everyone else. And so it sucks that I either have to pay more and wait longer (because I have to put things in smaller and more frequent orders than one large order), just because of a freaking number and a freaking system that people refuse to change. And now this nonsense is happening with an AMERICAN website. It’s such a simple change. And it’s such an unnecessary obstacle to being able to participate properly in Korean society. And it’s incredibly unfortunate that iHerb has decided to participate in the discrimination.
Do you think this is wrong? Contact iHerb and share your frustrations… firstname.lastname@example.org