Friday, May 29, 2009

Kushibo says HABO

As in, "help a brother out."

It seems one Matt Robinson has encountered some serious health concerns while in Korea (temporarily) on a tourist visa. Brian has the details here, where you can read about the thrombosis and the possible amputation and the what not. Here are more details on Facebook.

His bills are expected to run to about 10 million and the surgery he needs has to be paid up front or else he'll be booted out of the hospital, say the people who have put up the Facebook information page. 

I'm one of those there-but-for-the-grace-of-God kind of people, so I'm in for 100K won (bank account details below). 

Frankly, having been duped in the past by horror stories of people in desperate need, I would have liked to see a bit more confirmation of this guy's dire straits from people with whom I'm familiar, but the support network for this guy seems too complex to be a hoax, and if it is a Kari Ferrell level of elaborate deception, well then they deserve the money for all that effort, I s'pose. (By the way, I'm still not convinced that Salvador/Beau Smith was a real case, and my email to the sheriff in the rural county where he was supposedly from remains unanswered.)

So like I said, I'm in for 100K won. And by "100K won," I mean  a hundred thousand won, not 100 Korean won, though sending a 100-won coin is just the kind of sneaky, a-holeish thing kushibo would do, then turn around and say everyone misunderstood what I'd said. I'm just that vile. At least, that's what anonymous people in the K-blogs tell me.

Here's the information if you'd like to risk being a dupe and would like to do something for humanity (or for yourself, if you're one of those "do unto others" Jesus freaks or a "what goes around comes around" pragmatist looking for a payoff down the road). 

Account number: 481-007433-01-011

Bank: IBK (Industrial Bank of Korea, 기업은행)
Name on account: 매티유로 (short for Matthew Robinson)

If you do donate money, consider leave a comment here saying so, or at least email me. That way if you ever end up in the hospital with massive bills that you can't pay, I won't hesitate at all to send 100K won your way either (and I hoped you'd do the same for me). That's sort of how insurance works. 

And speaking of insurance, later on after this guy's okay, I'm going to post some very pointed remarks about how he got in this situation in the first place. Some of them will be bagging on his own bad choices, but it will be done as a form of tough love, and also as a way to use his own shitty situation as an object lesson for others. Because, as we public health types are so fond of preaching to everyone else until their ears bleed, prevention is hella cheaper and easier on the bod than fixing something after it's broke, which will often make you broke. 

Some of these comments will actually be questions why, knowing that he'd had problems like this, he would allow his insurance to lapse or that he didn't try to get traveler's insurance or something. Or, for that matter, how after three years he would not have 10 million won saved up.

I'd also like to know what the Friends of Matt group is going to do if they surpass the money needed. I'd like to see someone I trust (e.g., Brian, Marmot, the head of KOTESOL) keep that money in trust so that we have it ready for the next time — God forbid — we end up with a bad case like that of Bill Kapoun or Nerine Viljoen, requiescant in pace

Sure, those questions and concerns in this time of need make me a jerk, but I'm being a jerk so we don't have to see the next guy's crippled limbs extended in a hand-out gesture. Kushibo is a purposeful jerk, even though that may make me seem less vile. Maybe I'll go drown a kitten or something. 

Some of my pointed questions/statements will deal also with the Korea health insurance system itself. I'm thinking one of the things ATEK or KOTESOL or the Kushibo Foundation ought to do is lobby the health insurance corporation to allow people in Matt's situation (returning on tourist visa after work visa ends to look for a job) to keep paying into insurance — up front — and get the benefits. This would actually be a low-risk proposition to the insurance bureau, since such people would generally be younger or presumably lower risk. For every Matt you get with a 10 million won surgery bill, you'd get hundreds more whose 100K or 200K per month premiums won't require any payouts. 

But all that's for a later post. Okay, now go donate some money.

(no kittens were harmed in the making of this post)


  1. Matt has had a very rough year with his health and because of his ongoing struggles, he got a bit depressed. Matt would never openly ask for money or help. He called up a few of his close friends to ask for money and it was a very difficult thing for him to do. If Matt saw how so many people were asking for help on his behalf, he would be furious and embarrassed. It's a good thing he doesn't have access to the Internet.

    Sure, Matt has made some wrong decisions. When he started to have these health issues, he should have gone home. There are many in Korea that dread the idea of going home because they don't know what they will return to. Imagine how he would have felt going home crippled and sick? Also, his medical bills in the states would have been 10 times what they are here.

    I can assure you that the money that is raised will go to help Matt. The 10 million is not the final amount. Matt will have to stay in the hospital for an additional month after wards to heal. Then there will be costs for physical therapy and then getting him home or wherever he decides to go.

    There have been people that have criticized the approach in getting money for Matt. But, it was due to the severity of the situation. It was a life and death situation and all of us had to act as soon as possible.

    Thanks so much for donating and please spread the word.


  2. First off, let me say that I'm glad someone that I knew prior to hearing of Matt's case is someone who can vouch for him. That makes me feel better that my 100K won is going to be well spent (and I'm a grad student with a mortgage now looking for a new TAship, so that's no small bit of cash for me). I trust your assurances.

    As for Matt's "wrong decisions," the reason I addressed them the way I did is that his is actually a typical case. Folks in their 20s and 30s tend not to think of themselves as susceptible to catastrophic illness, so they often go without insurance (this, in fact, is one of the reasons there is a breakdown in the health care system back in the US). I think Matt's case can be a cautionary tale for everyone, and it should be a reason for folks without F-status visas or ROK citizenship to to work out some sort of way to stay insured when lapses in employment occur.

    A few years back I had appendicitis during a week that I had planned to be in the US, where I would NOT have had insurance. I would have had $10K or $15K of bills just for that routine surgery and it would have hurt. Ever since then, while residing in Seoul, I buy traveler's insurance every time I leave Korea.

    As you mention, the bills might have been ten times higher in the States (?) where he's from, so leaving his home and livelihood may not have been the best solution anyway. I certainly wouldn't fault him for staying.

    As for his embarrassment about asking for money, I think that's common but it's also something that people need to be realistic about setting aside, particularly when a choice is made to live in a collectivist society where care and treatment might actually depend on people being able to rely on others.

    In fact, I'd be willing to bet that one thing Matt might need is friends or family who can stop by on a regular basis and help out. When I got my appendectomy, I was in the new "hospital-like" wing of Severance, but loved ones have been in the "regular" rooms where even washing and other routine situations are expected to be handled by family members.

    Anyway, I'm not faulting the guy. I only offered those questions/comments so we can avoid stuff in the future.

    [I'm leaving this same comment on your blog, where you'd made a post that contained the same info.]


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