Wasn’t it just a few days ago that I wrote about the small victories we were having with our washing machine, pipes, and boiler in this ongoing fight against the cold?
This morning we woke up after a night of indulging in a few soju cocktails with another Canadian/Korean couple and decided we would go to Emart to buy groceries after the Sunday morning animal show (our fav shared show). So we watch this cute segment about a pheasant helping a man overcome his stoke, but in the middle of a horrific segment on the fur trade, Mr. Lee went to go into our bedroom for a moment and stepped into…a puddle of water. Upon closer inspection, we noticed an irregular trail of water near the tv – near the fridge – near the bathroom – and near the sink (all in totally different areas of the central living room/kitchen area). There was a lot of water that had suddenly appeared and seeped across our obviously slopping floor, but it wasn’t apparent if the culprit was the air conditioner, sink, bathroom, or fridge….until I opened the storage room door and found myself ankle deep in freezing cold water.
What followed was an all-out mopping attempt to stop the water from reaching our complicated entertainment system set up/electrical cords/extension cords. We then focused on trying to bail out the storage room until we realized that pouring out the excess water in the sink was making the flood waters rise because the problem was with the sink/storage area pipe. We called the realtor who came over in Sunday best and was quite surprised to see the water madness. He then called the useless man who constructed the building. I say useless because he obviously cut enormous corners in constructing this building and tries to cover up/deflect every short coming every chance he gets. He refused to acknowledge the very obvious fact that the way he had built the outdoor pipe carrying sink water from the top 3 apartments to the sewer made it vulnerable to freezing. But then the pipe expert came and confirmed that no, it was not our fault, but rather the cold water which had frozen the outdoor communal waste pipe (which then forced other people’s sink waste into our storage area when it couldn’t drain properly).
It was sometime after 9am when we first noticed the water problem – it was 6:30 pm before we finished working with the repair man, talking to the landlady, talking to the neighbours, cleaning up the mess, and disinfecting the house. Last week Grandpa died…this week our house flooded. What a wonderful way to spend our Sundays!
The biggest problem is of course, who should pay. It wasn’t our fault. It wasn’t our own pipe. It’s a shared problem between the top 3 units and the landlord who paid a crap builder and then didn’t check to make sure that he wasn’t pocketing 1/2 the money and doing a half ass job of building the place. But of course, the frozen pipe was a bigger problem for us because the 3rd and 4th floor people didn’t suffer any of the consequences. They sent their dirty sink water down to us and we got to clean it up. Of course, the landlady doesn’t want to take any responsibility – and she lives in another city meaning that she couldn’t see the actual problem. Our realtor who did see the problem first hand and did concede that it was a whole building problem caused by the badly placed and exposed pipe and frigid temperatures, so he technically sided with us. But….he’s part of the landlady’s family, meaning that even though he is supposed to be a mediator between owner and tenant, he always tries to avoid problems or directly giving any opinion. The 4th floor people just don’t want to pay, and we are pretty sure that they are trying to renew their chonse contract soon, meaning that they have to kiss ass until their new contract is negotiated and finalized. And the 3rd floor people recognize the need to pay part of the repair costs, but don’t want to be part of any negotiations. This means that all day it was up to Mr. Lee to push everyone else to take some of the responsibility…and it also means that in pushing the landlady, we have jeopardized our relationship with her.
I think it will be okay in the end – but she’s a bit furious at the moment that she has to contribute anything to the maintenance of her own building. And because she is in control of a large part of our savings in the form of our chonse, she wields a lot of power over us. Chonse is a really great thing in terms of allowing people to save more money and giving people more stability in terms of two year contracts instead of just one. But….it also means that there’s a power relationship that is much more worrisome than in a renting relationship. I’m sure at some point we’re going to have to make nice with her – somehow get some gift to her – defer to her on a number of other points to make up for this one audacious move of asking for her to pay 1/4 of the repair fees for her own building, but for now we are the horrible tenants who have jeopardized the ever necessary jeong.