There are several angles to answering this question....
1. Marry a Korean and the process is super easy. As you mentioned, money will solve things too (I think it's US$100,000, not $500,000 though, isn't it?) Otherwise...
2. ... you're stuck with the points system. Interestingly, I had checked out the points approach first and found out that even though I had enough to quality on that basis, it didn't matter because I was on a student visa and you can't go directly from student visa to permanent residency no matter how many points you have.
3. It's possible to learn Korean adequately without attending one of the language courses in the big city. I did it and others have too. Pick up a book, hire a college student as a tutor and then study like crazy for a couple years.
4. Even if you don't have the Korean ability for the test, you can earn your points another way. Just pick up the points guide at immigration and see how many you get. I think you have to have 80 so if you're short, look at what you have to do to get more. Even without reaching an advanced level in Korean, you could still study toward beginner or intermediate level and get some, but not all, of the available points that way.
In the end, it's not a matter of deciding whether or not to "ask" for permanent residency. Once you quality, you can apply and get it.
Steven gives great advice -When you go to the Immigration Office to renew your visa, ask for the point guide & see how many moe points you need.
Actually, go in with your resume & proof of employment and ask the immigration officer if you qualify.
Someone with your career & your level of education is likely not too far away from the magic number of points (80) ^.^
Sometimes a quick search on the internet helps too :)
Below is a breakdown of the points system. (Which I've summarized from the original article)
You need 80 points out of a possible 120 points to get the visa, and you MUST have an E-series visa for at least one year before applying for the F-series visa.
Age (maximum 25 points)
18-24 years old = 15 points
25-29 years old = 20 points
30-34 years old = 25 points
35-39 years old = 20 points
40-44 years old = 10 points
45-50 years old = 8 points
51 or older = 5 points
Academics (maximum 35 points)
Associates degree = 5 points
Bachelor's degree = 10 points
2 or more Bachelor's degree = 15 points
Master's degree = 20 points
2 or more Master's degrees = 25 points
Ph.D degree = 30 points
2 or more Ph.D. degrees = 35 points
Korean proficiency (maximum 20 points)
General Comprehension = 5 points
Topic Comprehension = 10 points
Sufficient Level for Everyday Life = 20 points
Yearly income (maximum 10 points)
Under 35,000,000 won / year = 5 points
35,000,000 - 50,000,000 won / year = 6 points
50,000,000 - 80,000,000 won / year = 7 points
80,000,000 - 100,000,000 won / year = 8 points
100,000,000 won or more / year = 10 points
Korea Social Integration (maximum 30 points)
Social Integration Program = 10 points.
Studies in Korea:
Korean language certificate = 1 point
B.A. = 1 point
M.A. = 5 points
Ph.D. = 10 points
Domestic Community Service
Under 1 year = 1 point
1-2 years = 3 points
Over 2 years = 5 points
Overseas Work as a Specialist
1 year = 1 point
1-2 years = 3 points
Over 2 years = 5 points
As always things can be revised, but this is the best explanation that I found.
Exactly ...and I'm at a total loss as to WHY that is ...as far as I'm concerned maturity is an asset & one's salary is usually commensurate with experience -which take TIME (ie: age) to accumulate.
I found the system frustrating as I read Simon's interpretation ...oh well, I suppose it's a start & I trust that improvements will follow in the near future ...if this country is trying to bolster their national "assests" by opening up residency, they are definitely shooting themselves in the foot with their agist policy (but it is consistent with how Korean currently treats it's citizens as they age as well).
Korea is definitely a differnt world^.~ ...things do change here rather rapidly, however.
re: the office gossip ...I'd interpret it positively: they are likely in awe that you would consider affiliating yourself in a more deep way with their country^.~
Here's how I handle office gossip: I address it by "joining in" and giving what's being said my DIRECT input & spread the "spin" that I wish to give -I talk to EVERYONE directly ^.^
...they usually learn after that to speak to me directly if any future "outbreaks" (of gossip) occur ^.^
I am not sure how to get your Domestic Community Service verified/approved, but I can tell you about the Social Integration program. From time to time, immigration sends me an invitation to take the social integration course; but I'm working during the times the courses are offered. Maybe I'll take it one of these times. It might be interesting.
As to your Korean classes, I think to get a certificate you might need to attend an approved institute in order to get credited with points.